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The Pivotal Role of the Graduate Program in Student Mentoring
In graduate education, the faculty mentor plays the primary role in guiding a graduate student from recruitment through graduation-and often on to job placements-for several formative and demanding years. Faculty mentors also play an increasing role in responding to the mental health needs of graduate students, who face the stressors of the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, climate change and political unrest. While this mentoring relationship is central for graduate students, it is one often fraught with challenges. A mentoring relationship, after all, is fundamentally a relationship that relies on dynamic interpersonal skills, such as effective communication and cultural awareness. Mentor training has undoubtedly enhanced mentorship cultures across college campuses. Nationally, the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, Duke University, the University of Michigan and Texas A&M University, among others, are offering resources and training to help mentors and mentees foster a positive and productive relationship. But improving graduate mentoring cannot rest solely on the individual actions of the most devoted mentors and mentees. Campuses should also consider the powerful role that their graduate program can play in addressing the mentorship needs of entire cohorts of faculty and students and effectively setting standards of mentorship.
Posted on 10 Apr 2022
Jobs with NCWIT
Do you want to help NCWIT achieve their mission of correcting underrepresentation in the tech field by increasing the meaningful and influential participation of all girls and women in computing - at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other historically marginalized identities - from K-12 through career? You can be a part of their team! NCWIT is currently hiring for multiple positions.
Posted on 28 Mar 2022
Minding the Patent Gap
More women are becoming patented inventors than ever before. Of the new inventor-patentees in the U.S. in 2019, 17.3% were women, compared to 16.6% in 2016. This means that more women are inventing and participating in the patent system each year. But these percentages are still small. By 2019, only 12.8% of all inventor-patentees in the U.S. were women. And in 2021, the U.S. dropped to sixth place globally in terms of our share of women inventors (Spain, China, Korea, Turkey, and France are in the lead, respectively). The so-called patent gap - which includes gender, race, and income - extends in part from the barriers that exclude white women and people of color from STEM fields in the first place: stereotypes, discrimination, bias, and harassment; additional caregiving responsibilities and the “motherhood penalty;” lack of access to mentorship and social networks; being held to a higher standard than counterparts who are white men; and the list goes on. Further, because there is no formal education on innovation and patenting for anyone, it matters who has access to information on the patent process. Inventors often rely on mentors, informal support networks, and expensive patent attorneys to guide them through the process, and they may need advisers, supervisors, and other gatekeepers to invite them into innovation spaces. Not surprisingly, these key resources are less accessible to white women and people of color than to white men. The opportunity to become a patented inventor - which leads to credibility, higher income, and more opportunities - should not be decided by one’s gender, race, or income. Plus, we need everyone’s ideas and participation to meet today’s challenges. Patent diversity strengthens innovation, which results in more solutions that benefit more people.
Posted on 28 Mar 2022
Why reforming scientific awards can help to tackle discrimination in physics
Taken from the March 2022 issue of Physics World where it appeared under the headline "We need to rethink scientific awards". Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Jess Wade and Maryam Zaringhalam say that changing prize processes can help to champion a more equitable future A scientific award reflects what the community values. It can raise the profile of a scientist’s work, create opportunities for career advancement and increase researcher morale. Awards can motivate scientists to perform high-risk, high-reward research – to make breakthroughs and change how we understand the world. Prizes can also strengthen community bonds and establish role models as well as transform interest, investment and participation in a particular discipline. But there is a problem. The application process for prize nominations is often broken, as is the way that they are awarded. The outcome is that women and gender-minority scientists, scientists of colour and those from smaller, less well-known institutions are less likely to receive the recognition they deserve.
Posted on 28 Mar 2022
Women Making History Series Kicks Off with Isabel Escobar on ‘Behind the Blue’
Throughout March for Women’s History Month, the University of Kentucky is spotlighting Women Making History. These women are leading their fields of research, crossing traditional academic boundaries and impacting Kentucky’s most pressing challenges including opioid use disorder treatment, aging and Alzheimer’s, water and air filtration, environmental impacts on health and suicide prevention. They are mentoring the next generation of women scientists and scholars, curating stories and creating artworks illuminating who we are. Their work and voices shape the University of Kentucky. The “Women Making History” series kicks off with this episode of Behind the Blue. Isabel Escobar, Ph.D., professor of chemical and materials engineering in the UK College of Engineering and National Governing Board Chair of the Association for Women in Science, leads a discussion with her female chemical engineering team. Together they work on some of the toughest environmental challenges in water and air filtration. Escobar, Abelline Fionah, UK Ph.D. student, and Laura Brady, a UK senior, share what it’s like to be a woman in STEM, the reality of balancing work and family, and advice for choosing the right mentor.
Posted on 13 Mar 2022
WE22 Call for Participation (CFP) Is Now Open
SWE will once again host a hybrid conference for WE22. The call for participation process has been updated to ensure that both in-person attendees in Houston and our virtual attendees receive quality programming.The key changes include: All accepted sessions will be required to be in Houston to present sessions to in-person attendees; All accepted sessions are required to submit a recording of their session by September 7, 2022. This will allow all virtual attendees and in-person attendees access to all of the content via the platform.
Posted on 13 Mar 2022
How this 'little ole girl' from North Carolina became a lead Covid-19 vaccine developer
She’s a globally renowned scientist and Covid-19 vaccine developer, yet Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Ph.D., modestly describes herself as a “little ole girl” from a small North Carolina town. Growing up, she saw firsthand the health challenges and disparities that proliferated in the Black community.“I expanded beyond being a Harvard professor to being the community vaccine teacher... I’ve become an expert in empathy as much as an expert in immunobiology." Two years into the pandemic, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett reflects on her multidimensional role as vaccine inventor.
Posted on 01 Mar 2022
Honoring Women's History Month in tech
Here's a look at some of the issues and opportunities shaping the experiences — and future — of women in tech and education. Where do women stand in the tech world? As of last year, an estimated 331.4 million people live in the US. Just over half - 51% - are women. About 57% of America's women were in the workforce in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only are women working, but they're also studying. Women received 57% of bachelor's degrees in 2019. And yet, only 21% of computer science bachelor's degrees went to women that year. Indeed, women were more than twice as likely to work in education or healthcare than in a computer or tech-related job, according to BLS data. In 2020, just 11% of women in professional and related occupations had a job in a computer or engineering-related role. In tech, the scales still tip toward men. For example, 48% of men had a computer or engineering-related job. To look at it from another angle, women represented just 18% of chief information officer positions in America's 1,000 largest companies in 2019.
Posted on 01 Mar 2022
First female director appointed for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
For the first time in its 85-year history, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a female director.Geochemist and space scientist Laurie Leshin will serve as the director for JPL as well as the vice president of the California Institute of Technology, both located in Pasadena. Faculty and students from Caltech founded JPL in 1936 and have managed the laboratory on behalf of NASA since 1958. It's a bit of a homecoming for Leshin, who earned her master's and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech and served as a member of the Curiosity rover science team that analyzed data to find evidence of water on the surface of Mars. Leshin has also spent more than two decades supporting and planning the upcoming Mars Sample Return missions, which will return Martian samples collected by the Perseverance rover to Earth by the 2030s. All of these Mars exploration missions are managed by JPL. As a scientist, Leshin has focused on understanding where and when water has been present throughout our solar system. Leshin also has an impressive record of serving in academia, holding senior positions at NASA and two White House appointments.
Posted on 13 Feb 2022
More women in a STEM field leads people to label it as a ‘soft science,’ according to new research
One factor that influences the use of the labels “soft science” or “hard science” is gender bias, according to recent research my colleagues and I conducted. Women’s participation varies across STEM disciplines. While women have nearly reached gender parity in biomedical sciences, they still make up only about 18% of students receiving undergraduate degrees in computer science, for instance. In a series of experiments, they varied the information study participants read about women’s representation in fields like chemistry, sociology and biomedical sciences. Then they asked them to categorize these fields as either a “soft science” or a “hard science.” Across studies, participants were consistently more likely to describe a discipline as a “soft science” when they’d been led to believe that proportionally more women worked in the field. Moreover, the “soft science” label led people to devalue these fields – describing them as less rigorous, less trustworthy and less deserving of federal research funding.
Posted on 27 Jan 2022

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