“When am I ever going to use this in real life?” That is the oft-heard refrain from middle- and high-school science students, struggling through labs and formulas that feel as far removed from their day-to-day as, well, space travel. Sarthak…
Women in Science and Engineering Helping to Boost Women in STEM
Hundreds of people—students and faculty—in STEM fields have been mentored, energized and supported in their advancement through the work of Syracuse University’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), since its inception more than 20 years ago.
Serving 19 STEM departments at the University, WiSE offers undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty networking and learning opportunities that help enhance the inclusion and success of STEM women.
“Over the last 22 years at SU, WiSE has created mentoring relationships in STEM across all disciplines, levels and ranks,” says Shobha Bhatia, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and faculty co-director of WiSE. “WiSE has allowed its participants to both climb the ladder and hold the ladder—this is remarkable and worth celebrating.”
Although the mission of WiSE is to empower women in STEM, its hosted events and workshops are open to all, regardless of sex, gender or gender identity. This includes an exciting upcoming event celebrating WiSE’s history.
This spring, WiSE will recognize the past, present and future of its work during “Celebrating 22 Years of SU WiSE,” from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, April 1.
The event will include:
- presentations by WiSE faculty leadership;
- panel sessions on the graduate and undergraduate perspective;
- presentations by Virginia Valian, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Hunter College, and Cristina Marchetti, professor of physics at the University of California Santa Barbara, former William R. Kenan, Jr. and Distinguished Professor of Physics at Syracuse University, Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences; and
- the awarding of the Norma Slepecky Undergraduate Research Prize.
“WiSE has made a huge difference in the lives of women in STEM at all levels of the pipeline for 22 years, helping them to succeed and flourish,” says Katharine Lewis, professor and chair of the biology department, co-director of WiSE and Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence. “On April 1, we will celebrate these achievements and look forward to what still needs to be done to achieve gender equity in STEM.”
In 1996, the underrepresentation of faculty women in STEM was noted by women in the University Senate and a proposal was submitted for a WiSE program by Cathryn Newton, then chair of Earth sciences and currently professor of interdisciplinary sciences and dean emerita of Arts and Sciences, and Diane Lyden Murphy (currently dean of the Falk College) and Priti Ramamurthy, then directors of women’s studies.
The proposal was not funded, but a year later, the Senate Committee on Women’s Concerns recognized the scarcity of women faculty in the science, mathematics and engineering disciplines. Newton and Bhatia were appointed as co-facilitators of the early WiSE project.
Newton and Bhatia met with other faculty members, researched similar programs and developed three goals: increase representation and retention; highlight women scholars through a lecture series; and develop mentor programming.
Since then, WiSE, which was integrated into the Office of the Provost in 2017, has developed programming and mentoring opportunities that have continued to deepen its members connections.
Among its many offerings, WiSE initiatives include the following:
- the Norma Slepecky Prize (for undergraduate research) and Lecture;
- WiSE Women of Color in STEM and Career Preparation Program, promoting persistence in STEM and also providing tools for women to succeed while addressing bias;
- scientific writing workshops;
- Summer Research Program for undergraduate students;
- WiSE Future Professionals Program (WiSE-FPP);
- leadership development grants for faculty; and
- various professional development opportunities for post-doctoral student and faculty members.
Visit WiSE online to find out more and how to participate.