BY: Maria Barrios Sazo
On November 16, GWISE hosted the annual mixer event featuring the talk “It Takes a Village to Advance Women in STEM”. The invited speaker, Prof. Sandra K Masur, works in Ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. In addition to many leadership roles, she served as chair of the Women in Cell Biology Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology.
The occasion started with the presentation by Prof. Masur in the auditorium of the new computer science building, with the new banner indicating the door. She motivated her talk by stating the problem, “Why aren’t there more women at the top?”. The audience could see the facts while she displayed a graph showing the percentage of women at different career stages (PhD, Assistant Prof, Associate Prof and Full Prof) in several STEM fields. The causes of the issue include gender schemas, held by both men and women, that have impact on the productivity of graduate students leading to male students publishing more than female students.
Similar to the role a mayor has in a village, in academia the deans and chairs can impact the environments they lead by supporting rules that enable fairness. In order to address the issue, STEM needs both the leaders and the community to contribute. In terms of the village, the community, it is necessary to promote working in diverse teams leading to collective intelligence. One of the key things to take home was the resources Prof. Masur shared for career flexibility and critical period support along with the database of women speakers in different fields. As a scientist, informing scientist she said the best way to do it is using data. Through the whole presentation she quoted studies and provided the sources. This material can be find in the GWISE website.
At the end of the talk the prizes of the Fall Foliage picnic were given to the first three places of the photo contest. Following the prizes there was a dinner time for students to network with peers and also with the speaker. Prof. Masur shared more of her personal life during that time with some of the audience leading to inspirational words coming from a very encouraging person.