Last week, UW’s physics department hosted a seminar by Rachel Scherr, a UW physics alumna and senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University who has also conducted research on diversity and education for the American Physical Society (APS). This discussion was prompted in part by the lack of diversity in this year’s cohort of physics graduate students: of 31 students, 30 identify as male. While the demographics of our chemistry department are much more balanced in terms of gender, the topic of diversity in admissions is important for anyone interested in graduate education.
Last week, WCS held our third annual WCS lecture (here’s our recap of the first, and of the second)! This time, we hosted Dr. Geri Richmond, from the University of Oregon. Geri has had an amazing scientific career, focusing on the spectroscopy of molecular processes at liquid surfaces, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She has also been actively involved in science policy (serving on the National Science Board and also as the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) and supporting the careers of women in science and engineering through COACh, a grass-roots organization that provides professional development workshops and networking opportunities for women around the world.
Heidi, Beth, and Brenda had a great time helping teach middle-school girls about the chemistry of nail polish at the Museum of Flight! The students learned about what happens when nail polish dries and how nail polish remover works from Highline College professors Natalie Bjorge and Marie Nguyen, and made their own customized nail polish by mixing eye shadow pigment and glitter into clear nail polish. Then we talked to them about UW, being a graduate student in chemistry, and our own paths, research interests, and career goals. We finished up by making solvent art and talking about why nail polish dissolves in nail polish remover, but doesn’t come off when you wash your hands.
Thanks to LaNiqua Bell and the Museum of Flight for organizing and hosting this event! We had a really great time, and we’re looking forward to future workshops in the Lashes ‘n Lab Coats series!
Please join Women in Chemical Sciences at UW for our annual welcome ice cream social, on Wednesday, September 28th from 3 to 5 pm in CHB 102. We’ll be kicking off the new academic year with lots of delicious ice cream and toppings, along with the chance to meet and mingle with graduate students, faculty, and staff in the chemistry department! You can check out a few photos from last year’s event here and RSVP and invite your friends on our facebook event page. Hope to see you there!
Managing with Mindfulness: Meghann Gerber, PsyD and licensed psychologist, will be giving Women in Chemical Sciences an introduction to mindfulness meditation on Friday, July 29, at 10:00 AM in CHB 239. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that involves cultivating attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental manner. Over time this practice strengthens attention and promotes an open attitude that is particularly helpful for responding to life’s challenges. Please come and enjoy a relaxing wind-down from your week!
Women in Science & Politics: Women in Chemical Sciences will host a talk by UW Chemistry alumna Jennifer Brookes (PhD ’15). As a SPIE/OSA Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow, Dr. Brookes spent the last year in Washington, D.C. working as a special legislative assistant for Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D–NY). She will talk about her experience as a scientist working on public policy issues around gender in science and education, and how her work is more broadly connected to the underrepresentation of women and their voices in Congress. The talk will be held on Monday, August 1, at 5:00 pm in 261 Bagley Hall, and all are welcome to attend.
This week, we read part 1, chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Lab Girl. Here’s some notes and links from our discussion:
Our first WCS member meeting of the summer will be this Friday, June 24th, at 9:00 am in Bagley 464 (if you’re standing at Drumheller Fountain and facing Bagley, it’s in the back left corner of the building, on the fourth floor). There will be donuts and/or banana bread!
We have a bunch of things to discuss, including several potential summer events (mindfulness meditation workshop, summer picnic/outing, workshops with the career center) and some ongoing or upcoming projects (new outreach activities, diversity in STEM summit this fall, and more). If you have any other ideas or topics to discuss, please email us!
See you Friday!
This year for our summer book club, we’re reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren! Meetings are on Thursdays at noon in CHB 439; you can sign up and find the reading schedule here. At our first meeting, we read the prologue together and discussed our first impressions. Here’s a few notes on what we talked about…
Please join us on Thursday, May 26th at 5:30 pm in CHB 102 for “Old Boys’ Club Starts Early: Males Under-Estimate Academic Performance of Their Female Peers in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms” with Dan Grunspan. Dan is a UW anthropology graduate student and author of a recent study investigating how gender influences students’ perceptions of their peers in undergraduate biology classes at UW.
Here’s the abstract for Dan’s talk; you can also check out the whole paper here.
Women leave STEM fields at a higher rate than their male peers. Inequitable social environments in undergraduate classrooms may contribute to this gap in retention rates. We examine how gender influences student perceptions of one another in undergraduate Biology courses by asking students to list peers they feel are strong with the course material. We asked this question eleven times over three iterations of the same large introductory Biology course. We find that males are more likely than females to be listed by their peers as strong with the course material. Social network models which control for students’ grade, whether they were outspoken, and the course structure, reveal that this bias is driven by males under-nominating their female peers, and over-nominating their male peers. Females, on the other hand, nominated equitably based on student performance and outspokenness. The most renowned students in all three classes are male. The results of this survey may reflect differences in the social environments faced by male and female students, which could influence self-confidence, and ultimately persistence in this STEM discipline.
This event will be a great way to learn more about gender in STEM education and how it affects us as students, teachers, and scientists. Special thanks to Women in Genome Sciences for hosting a similar discussion last month in their department; we’re excited to bring this conversation to chemistry. Hope to see you there!