Women of Color Research Network: A Place to Ask, Talk, Connect

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You’ve just landed your first job interview for a tenure track research position and been given the option to meet in person or do the interview by video. The video approach would be more convenient given your demanding schedule, but is that a good idea? Where can you get advice about what might be best?

The Women of Color Research Network (WoCRn) is an online community of women helping other women succeed in research, with a special focus on enhancing diversity in biomedical science. The web-based forum and networking site, run by the Office of Research on Women’s Health at NIH, is a place where early-career researchers can interact with peers as well as with more experienced investigators. Members can exchange ideas about career development, get advice on navigating the NIH grants process, and participate in discussion groups on a wide range of topics, such as mentoring, science policy, and work-life balance. The site also posts news items pertinent to scientific workforce diversity for comment and discussion.

“We want members to communicate with each other in ongoing discussions,” said Cerise Elliott, Ph.D., a research program analyst in the National Institute on Aging at NIH. Dr. Elliott and J Taylor Harden, Ph.D. (who is now retired from the NIA) developed the network as members of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers.

In October 2012, just over a year after its launch, the WoCRn has nearly 800 members from institutions across the United States and at the NIH. The WoCRn encourages participation from anyone interested in diversity of the scientific workforce, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.

In addition to the forums, where members can start or join a discussion, the website features:

  • Membership Directory and Profiles—Use the directory to find mentors and colleagues in your scientific field.
  • Events—Find out about upcoming conferences, symposia, and meetings related to scientific workforce diversity.
  • Resources—Access a comprehensive list of professional associations/societies with a focus on biomedical research and diversity, learn about NIH’s institutes and centers, and link to grants/funding and training opportunities offered by NIH.

As for the issue of video vs. in-person interviews, WoCRn members recommend the in-person approach. Here is what one member had to say in the forum:

“I have been surprised when [senior level] individuals opt for video interviews. They are at a disadvantage compared to those who interview in person. For instance, in person one can read the room, and informally interact with the review committee before and after the formal interview.”

Tune in to the discussion at www.wocrn.nih.gov/forums/forums.