I became a member of WISE at the beginning of the semester after attending an informational session. I had not heard of WISE before I saw the event flyers online, and was extremely eager for the opportunity to participate in this type of organization. In the few months I have been a member of WISE, I have expanded my views of issues faced by women in STEM, and have even been made more aware of my own biases. I would like to serve on the WISE Board of Directors in order to continue to expand my own views, and to help the organization continue to grow and expose others to issues faced by women in STEM. The goals I hope to accomplish as a member of the Board of Directors are as follows:
1.) Raise awareness among other disciplines in STEM. Given the history of WISE, many of its current members are in Chemistry-related fields. As a physics graduate student, I had not heard of WISE until I saw it advertised on social media. I believe with a little more effort, we can expand our organization and recruit both male and female members from other departments where women are underrepresented, including Physics & Astronomy, Mathematics, and Computer Science. This diversity is essential in ensuring we have members with a variety of views and experiences in order to have more enriched discussions of the issues faced by women in STEM.
2.) Outreach. Outreach is essential to sustaining an interest in STEM fields in young women and girls. The outreach I have conducted at middle schools throughout my higher education has made me more aware of the drop in interest that occurs just between sixth and eighth grade. I would like organize more outreach events aimed at middle and high school girls in the area in order to help sustain an interest in STEM. I am especially interested in working with middle and high schools that have a high population of students receiving free and reduced lunches, as many of these students are more likely to see science simply as a subject taught in school, and not as an accessible career. This also ties into my first goal—Outreach led by WISE members with diverse disciplines at schools like these will help expose the students to real-life applications of a wider variety of subjects that they are learning in school, and may help re-kindle a fading interest in STEM fields.
3.) Increase participation. I would like to organize more social events in order to increase the participation of graduate students in WISE. I have enjoyed meetings where we discuss issues faced by women in STEM, and believe they have been very effective. I believe we may attract more members if we occasionally have some of these meetings in a more casual environment off-campus, such as a coffee shop. I also propose more social events that will help members interact in a more relaxed environment, such as game nights. This type of environment can help form and tighten bonds among members, making it easier to share personal experiences, and to give and receive support whenever possible.