Building Leadership Skills for Success in Scientific Organizations

On December 13‐14, 2008, ESWN organized a workshop “Building Leadership Skills for Success in Scientific Organizations,” sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with additional support from UCAR JOSS and the ADVANCE program at Brown University. Forty‐one women, from academic (25), public (9) and private (7) institutions attended the workshop. The workshop opened with the history and chemistry of leadership, facilitated by Sandy Shullman of the Committee On the Advancement of women in Chemistry (COACh). Sandy then discussed the importance of developing leadership skills among female scientists, and outlined and demonstrated several strategies to become an effective leader. The first day concluded with a panel of four senior scientists—Tim Killeen (NSF), Margaret Leinen (Climos), Pamela Matson (Stanford University), and Susan Solomon (NOAA)—who shared insights from their own career paths and observations about the role of women scientists in future leadership positions. On the second day of the workshop, Christina Olex, a corporate trainer and facilitator, led discussions on how to develop one’s personal leadership style, starting from an understanding of emotional intelligence and ending with specific strategies for identifying and overcoming challenges to becoming more effective leaders.

The workshop concluded with an opportunity for participants to reflect on what they had learned. Overall, the participants found that it was helpful to network with other early career women and discuss long‐term career development strategies. Many thought that the information on leadership styles and tools to become an effective communicator and leader would be helpful as they navigated their own career path. The perspectives and the forthright presentations of the panelists were also appreciated by participants.

A post‐workshop survey of the participants (90% response rate) revealed an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, with nearly all participants stating that the workshop was highly valuable to their careers and happiness (rank of 8.7 on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 = not valuable and 10 = extremely valuable) and that they would recommend others to attend the workshop if offered again (rank of 9.5). The strong ratings of the workshop value reflect the participants’ perception that it addressed content not available elsewhere. For example, when asked how much of the content of the workshop is available at their home institutions, the participants response average was 3.7, on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 = no content available and 10 = all content is available). Overall, participants felt that the workshop was extremely valuable to their professional development.

Special thanks to our panel members, coordinators, and organizers for putting together such a great program!