International Women in Biomechanics: Promoting, supporting, and sustaining the careers of women in biomechanics
Gender biases and inequities are prevalent across many scientific fields and biomechanics is likely no exception. While progress has been made to support women in the field, especially at biomechanics society conferences, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated professional isolation. The International Women in Biomechanics (IWB) community started in July 2020 with the mission of fostering an environment for women and other under-represented genders in biomechanics to gain year-round support, visibility, and allyship. Nearly 700 biomechanists have joined the IWB community from over 300 universities/organizations and 33 countries. Our community ranges in career stages and professions and interacts through a forum-style platform, teleconference meetings, and social media. In 2021, we conducted a survey to identify the needs, concerns, and issues faced by individuals in the IWB community. We received 144 responses from members in 16 countries. Our survey revealed three primary needs for women in biomechanics: supportive working environments, career planning support, and addressing workplace gender bias. These results, in conjunction with scientific evidence on workforce gender bias, helped us identify three key areas to meet our mission: Member Support, Community Outreach, and Empowering Allyship. Several levels of support are required in these three areas to ensure a lasting, positive, and sustainable impact on gender equity in biomechanics. We conclude by providing our perspectives on an evidence-based call to action to continue addressing gender bias and inequity at the individual, institutional, and scientific society levels. These actions can collectively enhance our allyship for women in the field of biomechanics.
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