Three students in a lab

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Creating a bright future for women in STEM

Women of Whiting hosts a symposium April 30 that will include community building exercises and professional development workshops

From knitting hats for cancer patients to developing medical devices, Haley Abramson has always enjoyed making things that help others. In fact, that's what initially sparked her interest in the STEM fields.

For Tracy Chung, it was a high school science teacher who advocated for more women and girls to get excited about STEM.

"She helped me realize that tending to my fascination for biology, for what cannot be seen by the naked eye, of creative engineering, was something that was definitely worth my while," Chung says.

Now as doctoral candidates in the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering, Abramson and Chung are co-presidents of Women of Whiting, a group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that provides women in STEM fields with community building, networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities.

On April 30, Women of Whiting will host its annual Women in STEM Symposium from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. After being canceled in 2020 and held virtually in 2021, this year's event will be offered in a hybrid format, held on Zoom and in Mudd Hall. Registration is now open. All are welcome to attend.

"Last year, our virtual format welcomed more than 200 attendees from around the U.S.," Abramson says. "This year, we hope to reach a broad audience once again with both a virtual and in-person community. We have a team of 16 incredible volunteers actively working to raise money, communicate with speakers, and create fun giveaways."

This year's theme will focus on the future of women in STEM.

"Although we may currently not see many female leaders in STEM, by providing the skillset to become leaders, we hope to change that and serve as role models for future generations," Abramson says. "This all surrounds our theme for the symposium. How can we, and how should we, define our next steps to improve the lives of others, and to improve the experience of women in STEM?"

The day will begin with a 45-minute yoga session at 9 a.m., followed by a keynote from Julie Des Jardins, a historian of American women and gender who has taught and written extensively in the field. The afternoon will include a resume building workshop with Tara Little, account manager at Proteintech Group; a presentation on transitioning from academia to industry given by Rita Matta, senior systems engineer at Becton, Dickinson, and Co.; a breakout session with Teri Mascuch, director of technical innovation at McCormick Flavor Solutions; and a talk on leadership by Ritu Raman, assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A panel discussion will feature author Eileen Pollack and Sadiye Rieder, associate director of research at Horizon Therapeutics. Finally, the event will conclude with a combined poster and networking session.

To ensure that all participants get the most out of the symposium, the talks and workshops will be conducted simultaneously in-person and on Zoom, with some speakers also beaming in virtually. The poster session will include digital posters as well.

"We encourage anyone who has an interest in empowering and supporting women in STEM to attend, regardless of whether you identify with the demographic or not," Chung says. "All stages of life, all fields, all careers are invited for a day filled with inspiration, practical skill-building, and a sense of community."

Posted in Science+Technology

Tagged stem