After decades of social progress towards equality, women are still under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), particularly at advanced career stages and in leadership roles. Disparities are perpetuated in part by gender bias, which often occurs on an unconscious level due to the influence of our cultural environment. Further, the retention rates of women in STEM continue to be negatively impacted by the scarcity of female mentors and role models. By breaking barriers to the success of underrepresented groups in STEM, we can increase diversity and in turn innovation and discovery by STEM problem-solvers and leaders to benefit our global society. Hence, our mission is to build an inclusive self-sustaining community composed of Chicago-area students, postdoctoral scholars, and professionals to support gender equity and the success of women in STEM.
Chicago Women in STEM Initiative now has it's own website: Please visit chicagowomenstem.org for the most current information on our upcoming interdisciplinary mentoring program, STEM Circuits, as well as our International Women's Day event, which will take place on the Chicago campus on March 8th, 2019.
Takeaway messages of our first annual symposium (March, 2018)
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Our relation to the Postdoctoral Association
Our initiative started as an effort of the Careers and Professional Development Committee of Northwestern's Postdoctoral Forum, and we are also a formal part of Northwestern's Postdoctoral Association. However, our initiative extends beyond postdocs and is open to students and postdocs at outside institutions in the Chicago area, as well as STEM professionals in our network.
Highlights of our first annual symposium
- Dr. Cole emphasized the importance of strong mentorship, even at early career stages. She suggested to learn first about the qualities of a good mentor to find out what you can ask them for. Check out this information about excellence in mentoring from the Northwestern TGS.
- Dr. Tamminga shared a dilemma she faced on the first day of her residency, when she noticed that the signs to the restrooms read “women” and “surgeons”. Things have changed for women nowadays, but we still have a long way to go.
- Dr. Woodruff discussed her recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where she met extraordinary women who are persisting in STEM fields in a climate where women are just now obtaining the right to drive. Her experience reminds us that the fight for women’s rights is global and ongoing.
- Dr. Donenberg addressed inequalities facing women, and referenced this paper on gender stereotypes, which we think you might find interesting.
- The skills used most by our panelists in their STEM leadership roles are listening, engaging, delegating, strategizing, organization, and patience.
members in formalized roles
and many more – we are presently growing
To learn how to participate in our initiative as a volunteer or collaborator, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.