ion is a problem. He arrived at an answer: optimism. Most scientists want to believe that they are fair, he said, and for that reason overlook data indicating that they probably aren't.
Unfortunately, this optimism prevents those at the top of the field from taking steps needed to eliminate a bias they don't acknowledge. "I think people can't change until they see there's a problem," he said.
Barres' colleague Jennifer Raymond, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, said she's grateful to Barres for speaking out. "Most people do think there is a level playing field despite all the data to the contrary," she said.
Inequality in science bothers Barres for several reasons. First, as a minority, he'd like to see his science stand on its own. But Barres' concerns go beyond his own advancement.
Pointing to his own large office, replete with comfortable furniture and a coffee table, Barres said, "I have everything I need." As a tenured professor at Stanford, he's not fighting for himself. "This is about my students," he said. "I want them all to be successful."
And he wants science to move forward, which means looking beyond the abilities of white men, who make up 8 percent of the world's population. The odds that all of the world's best scientists can be found in that small subset is, at best, small, he said.
With that in mind, Barres has been at the forefront of the fight to make science fairer for all genders and races. One focus is eliminating bias from grant applications, especially for the most lucrative grants where the stakes are highest.
Last year, Barres convinced the National Institutes of Health to change how it chooses talented young scientists to receive its Director's Pioneer Award, worth $500,000 per year for five years. In 2004, the 64-person selection panel consisted of 60 men - all nine grants went to men. In 2005, the agency increased the nuPage: 1 2 3 4 Related medicine news :1
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