From: UC News
At this year’s Diversity Conference event, titled “I Am a Diversity Leader,” taking place Wednesday, April 18, women scientists will be represented to discuss the importance of fostering a productive and beneficial work environment for females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Date: 4/12/2012 12:00:00 PMPhotos By: Academic Health Center Communications Services
By: Katie Pence
Phone: (513) 558-4561
By: Katie Pence
Phone: (513) 558-4561
For the past four years, the University of Cincinnati has supported a well-rounded work and learning environment by holding its annual Diversity Conference, celebrating the variety of talents present at the institution and encouraging growth.
At this year’s event, titled “I Am a Diversity Leader,” taking place Wednesday, April 18, women scientists will be represented to discuss the importance of fostering a productive and beneficial work environment for females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
This is the first time the STEM workshop will be held and is only one of many initiatives under way at the university to celebrate, inspire and support women in STEM disciplines, says Stacie Furst-Holloway, assistant professor and undergraduate director for organizational leadership.
“Several faculty members and a graduate student in the department of psychology will be conducting the workshop,” she says. “It will be an interactive session, allowing attendees to consider, from their own perspective, the culture of women in STEM.
“What is really exciting about this effort is the bridge across campuses. We have a common goal of improving opportunities for women at UC to develop their careers and a sense of community and are sharing our expertise accordingly.”
The workshop will involve an exercise similar to Photo Voice, an activity in which participants are asked to reflect on their work environment using photos to see how receptive and supportive it is to women in STEM careers. The reflection, in this case, will come from the creation of storyboards made from clips in magazines to represent how they perceive the culture for women within their discipline and then be used to strike a dialogue among those in attendance.
“For example, a woman may cut out a picture of a glass or a window and say that it represents the ‘glass ceiling,’” Furst-Holloway explains. “After discussing these challenges with one another, then the group will discuss what we can do to improve opportunities and ways to promote positive change individually or collectively to make work environments more supportive.”
Melanie Cushion, MD, associate chair of research and professor in the division of infectious diseases, and Rachel Kallen, PhD, assistant professor in psychology, have been integral to this initiative. Cushion is also a supporter for other activities around UC related to this subject and says that despite increasing participation of women and minorities in STEM disciplines, men continue to significantly outnumber women.
“At UC, we have 1,739 full-time faculty members, 44 percent of whom are women. However, women faculty are substantially underrepresented in STEM,” Cushion says, adding that about 10 percent are in engineering and applied sciences, about 29 percent are in arts and sciences and about 28 percent are in medicine.
“Further, as academic rank increases, the representation of women in STEM declines and women are often absent at the professor rank in the STEM disciplines. These data demonstrate the compelling need for institutional transformation in how we promote equity and professional success for women scientists.”
In addition to this workshop, Cushion has implemented “Ready, Set, Go” workshops, held monthly, as another way to support STEM faculty members. At these workshops, speakers discuss topics to help junior faculty jump-start their careers.
Topics range from developing a mentoring relationship to building a lab and developing a research funding revenue.
Cushion says that events like these are ways to enhance support of women and other minorities in STEM disciplines.
“As climate improves and social and professional networks are expanded, women and minority interest and success in STEM is significantly enhanced,” she says. “By creating such opportunities for learning and networking, we hope to improve the situation for women and minorities in these fields.”
For a full program schedule, visit the Diversity Conference website.