Women in STEM and Academia Event (March, 2018)

Women in STEM & Academia Initiative 2018 Summary



Dear postdocs,

The message we delivered with the Chicago Women in STEM and Academia Initiative is loud and clear:women continue to be underrepresented in academia and STEM professions. The causes of this “leak” in the pipeline are multiple: work/life balance conflicts, gender discrimination, lack of role models or mentors, less career development opportunities and the need of a family-friendly wage.

We intend for the Chicago Women in STEM and Academia Initiative to become an annual effort to develop a road map for gender equality. Our goals are to provide a forum for informal discussion on current topics affecting women in STEM and academia, facilitate direct interaction with women leaders in their fields, and foster a supportive local community of mentor-mentees to enable the success of early career women.

To ensure the continuity of this enterprise and represent postdoctoral women at NU, we welcome Colleen Zaccard to the Northwestern University Postdoctoral Forum (NUPF) Executive Board as the Chair of the Chicago Women in STEM Initiative.

We are writing to share with you the highlights and lessons from our 2018 conference, show you some of the results obtained in the post-event survey, and increase awareness about the Chicago Women in Academia & STEM workspace at Slack created for the occasion (please join our slack and introduce yourself in the #introductions channel).We expect these data to become a starting point for discussion and the birth of new ideas for the 2019 event!! Go NU women go!!!

Ana Vicente-Sanchez, Chair – NUPF Career & Professional Development Committee
& Dean Procter, Chair – NUPF









  • We need to be aware of our implicit biases, because society can influence how we judge our own abilities and can affect our decisions to pursue career advancement and leadership roles.
  • Many of us feel uncomfortable about negotiating for fair pay, but if you don’t ask, they won’t give it to you. Gather and present the facts.
  • The advice of one speaker, “Don’t let to let anything or anyone stop you. Just do it.” highlights the critical importance of persistence in spite of adversity in academia and STEM.
  • Together we are stronger. To have the most impact, we must extend our reach beyond any one university and build up a supportive local community comprised of Chicago women.
  • 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.




We congratulate Sarah Wellons from CIERA for having won the

survey raffle and thus an $25 gift certificate. However, everyone appears to have been a winner!!!

As one of the respondents phrased it: “I highly enjoyed this well plann

ed event.”. Showing the demand for further Women in STEM and Academia events, 90% of the attendees had never attended any related event in the past.

We are particularly proud that 70% of the attendees are curious about volunteering in the planning of further events.



We welcome more partnerships for this event and similar events in the future!