Five years ago, Cecilia Sánchez and Anya Brown, ecology doctoral candidates at the time, founded the Women in Science in service of creating a community where they could connect with peers and mentors. Open to anyone (including men) interested in pursuing equality and diversity in science, WiSci has grown to incorporate undergraduate students and an outreach program as well as all STEM disciplines:
The organization hosts several events each academic year, offering opportunities in mentoring, networking and career development, with either a career panel or workshop organized every semester. Career panels illustrate the variety of careers undergraduates can pursue with their degrees. Career development workshops help students work on their resumes and cover letters, interviewing skills and negotiation techniques in preparation for entering the job market. Occasionally, the group sponsors social gatherings where participants meet up and have fun as they connect with others.
“We also have a tiered mentoring program where we pair up undergraduates with graduates and graduates with postdocs using a survey,” said Barbara Del Castello, a third-year Ph.D. student in genetics from San Francisco and president of WiSci. “This helps put like members together and increases the effectiveness of the mentoring program.”
Grant program established
On campus, the group is beginning a tradition of support in the form of the Females First Grant.
“One of the major reasons we lose women in STEM fields at such a high rate is that compared to other fields, we don’t accommodate the ability to have children,” said Del Castello. “One such obstacle is that scientists need to attend conferences to meet collaborators, exchange ideas and see what new discoveries are being made. These conferences can be weeklong, and if a scientist has a child, lack of funds for adequate child care can deter them from attending, affecting their work and professional development. This is a particularly serious problem for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and adjunct professors.”
Empowering work by tireless champions of opportunity on campus and beyond. The new grants program is an inspiring example of student leadership that looks forward as it supports the scientists among us.
Image: Anya Brown and Cecilia Sanchez inside the Science Learning Center. (Photo by Nancy Evelyn/UGA)