Women in STEM Emily Anderson, Bioethics
An ethical approach
Emily Anderson, PhD, MPH, is an associate professor of bioethics and teaches both graduate and medical students. Her interests are ethical issues in research with vulnerable populations, informed consent, and researcher and physician professionalism/misconduct. She teaches research ethics and ethical issues in biomedical sciences to students, and is an advisor for the Women in Science group.
How have you seen our Women in Science group empower their fellow students?
It’s good to engage with the community to let them know we’re here. We need more women, and especially women of color, in science.
I’m really interested in resilience and burnout prevention. Graduate school can be really isolating for students and I think programs like this, as much as they have a community benefit, I think they’re also really beneficial for the students to get involved in because it keeps them excited about what they’re doing in the lab.
It can be tedious, there’s a lot of failures, it can be discouraging. This kind of thing can keep them energized and that can keep people going and provide human connection when you’re writing a dissertation or in a lab all the time. It’s clear a lot of students wanted to participate and had a lot of fun doing it.
How do you see Loyola as a positive environment for women pursuing a career in STEM?
The medical students are always thinking about that residency letter and having extracurricular activities is part and parcel of their education. Whereas the basic scientists, it’s about being in the lab and getting results. If you return to our Jesuit values, we’re supposed to be creating men and women for others, social justice, connecting what you’re doing in the lab to the outside world. Getting students to learn how to communication their work to a broader audience. All scientists are having to come to terms with these new skills that they have to have, but because of our Jesuit values they should be more prepared.
It’s important to think about who is in the field, they shape what questions get asked. Even at a very fundamental level, having more women, having more people of color in the sciences will affect the kinds of questions that get asked and the kinds of methods that are used. I think about the potential impact on society at large in terms of exploring diseases that have been forgotten or finding new and creative ways to approach cancer which have been challenging scientists for decades.
What changes have you seen personally over the last few years at Loyola, teaching basic science and medical students?
It seems like over the past few years there’s been a lot of women in my classes. Students talk to each other in the application process, people want to go where there are people like them. That’s the challenge of diversity: you may be welcoming and opening, but if students don’t see people like them in a program, you’d understood why they’d rather go somewhere else. Once you tip that balance, they see there are a lot of women here and feel like it’s a place where they’ll succeed.