Chicago Women in STEM Initiative (2018-2019)
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. The core philosophy of the Chicago Women in STEM Initiative is that by increasing diversity, we will in turn enhance discovery and innovation in STEM-related fields to benefit our global society. Hence, our mission is to build an inclusive self-sustaining local community composed of Chicago-area students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty to support gender equity and the success of women in STEM. During the 2018-19 academic year, the specific goals of the initiative are to (1) fill the mentoring gap for early career women in STEM at Northwestern University (NU) by establishing “STEM Circuits” and (2) host a high-impact event on International Women’s Day (IWD) on the Chicago campus to raise community awareness of implicit bias, a critical obstacle to STEM diversity.
- The purpose of STEM Circuits is to positively affect early career women’s confidence in their innate abilities and sense of belonging to the STEM community.
- STEM Circuits combines key aspects of peer mentor circles and mentoring networks and encourages faculty participation in an informal setting without an ongoing time commitment.
- Each inter-disciplinary peer mentoring circuit will be led by NU graduate students and postdocs, grouped by shared interest or career path, and supported by a local network of STEM professionals.
- A fall kick-off event will bring all participants together to introduce guidelines for successful peer mentoring, establish goals and objectives, brainstorm activities, and set monthly meeting schedules.
- Occasional networking lunches will bring all circuit participants together with invited faculty.
- To complement ongoing mentoring activities, the 2nd annual conference on March 8th of 2019, IWD, will commence with interactive workshops on recognizing and countering unconscious bias, stereotype threat, and imposter syndrome.
- We will also highlight local women leaders in STEM through a series of short talks.
- The key-note address on unconscious bias will be delivered by a leader from University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison’s Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI), which is at the forefront of implicit bias research and evidence-based solutions in academia.
- The event will close with a networking reception to bring together early career women and faculty.
With the support of NU, the large scale IWD, 2019 event and ongoing STEM Circuits will together grow a diverse and inclusive local community across disciplines, career-levels, and academic institutions that promotes the success of women in STEM.