IN THE NEWS
Stony Brook Breaks Down Barriers for Women in Science
As seen in The Chronicle of Higher Education
When Anna Goldberg read the agenda for a women’s science leadership conference at Stony Brook University last spring, she knew instantly that she wanted to attend. Goldberg had graduated from Stony Brook in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and in 2012 with a master’s in chemistry. But when she entered the workforce, she wasn’t expecting some of the treatment she as a woman scientist would receive.
Ann Lin graduated in 2018 with a double major in biochemistry and economics.
She remembers how, early in her career, she had offered a suggestion during a meeting and her male co-workers brushed it off. Later, when a male colleague suggested the same idea, the others said it was good. It was not the only time, nor the last time, she has felt undervalued in the workplace.
At the conference, Goldberg heard similar stories from other women in science, and learned new strategies for dealing with unequal treatment and how to gain influence in a business setting. She left feeling energized, empowered and connected.
“Stony Brook gave me a great education and a lot of skills I needed to be in the workforce,” she said. “But I still need an extra boost as a woman in science — to get higher pay, more opportunities.”
Stony Brook wants to ensure that women like Goldberg can be successful in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — fields in which women are statistically underrepresented. As one of New York’s top public universities and a flagship of the State University of New York, the University is building supportive pathways for women in STEM beginning in middle school, continuing through college and extending beyond graduation. This support will ensure that women’s skills, expertise and perspectives are equally present and valued in the rapidly growing STEM job market. The University is particularly well-positioned for the task because it has long been focused on STEM and dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion.
Its Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) program, created in 1993, is perhaps one of its most expansive initiatives. The program’s middle school component, called TechPREP, brings as many as 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls from local high-needs school districts to the campus to learn about computer science, physics and engineering for two weeks every summer. During the academic year, High School WISE, the next level, brings about 110 high school girls to the campus after school to conduct 10 research sessions in laboratories.
“It’s not that we expect them all to become chemical engineers or medical doctors,” said Mónica Bugallo, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and faculty adviser of WISE. “But we do want them to be exposed to what opportunities are available.”
On the college level, young women accepted into the WISE program receive merit-based scholarships, academic help, mentorships and opportunities for research, internships and networking. In Fall 2017, WISE became an honors program with a special curriculum. The University in recent years has increased retention rates for women in the WISE program to 88.6 percent. The increase means 400 additional women will be moving through the University’s engineering program over the next three years.
Celebrating Role Models
Ruchi Shah is currently a
Sharing and Caring
The University frequently holds special workshops, forums and events for its women
in STEM. In March, more than 150 female professors and students attended the School
of Medicine’s 12th Women in Medicine Research Day. Participants recognized the achievements
of women researchers, discussed issues women face in the medical field and shared
their own research. A key panel discussion was titled “Achieving a Successful Career
for Women in Medicine.”
Losing to Isolation
At the same time, many employers are struggling to figure out how more effectively
to attract, hire, retain and promote women. Such concerns prompted Stony Brook’s Center
for Corporate Education (CCE), which conducts career training and development for
local businesses, to hold its first-ever Women in STEM Leadership Program in May 2018.
For parity. For unity. For community.