Why We Need a Women in Science Organization
By Francesca Reindel and Jenny Chen, Co-Presidents, WISHR 2010-2011
Women In Science at Harvard-Radcliffe (WISHR) is one of the student groups on campus about which we are most passionate. We believe that women in science organizations in universities serve two functions: 1) They provide resources for students in the sciences and 2) They provide a forum for open discussion about the unique challenges which female scientists face.
WISHR is a supportive community that connects undergraduates who share an intellectual curiosity for the sciences. Our programs (such as the Speaker Series and the Big/Lil Sibs mentoring program) provide WISHR members the chance to explore opportunities in the sciences. From choosing classes and a concentration, to applying for summer internships and lab positions, the WISHR women are always willing to share their experiences and to give advice to their peers. Our organization sponsors several career panels and dinners which allow WISHR members to interact with distinguished faculty, advisors, and graduate students in a more intimate setting. Additionally, WISHR gives back to our community through outreach projects for local children, encouraging young girls to remain interested in science.
WISHR also addresses the unique challenges which women face in scientific disciplines by encouraging discussion of these concerns at our events. While there has been vast improvement in the ratio of men to women in the biological sciences and medicine, the gender gap in the physical sciences is still troubling. WISHR hosts the annual Spark Award ceremony to honor an inspirational female scientist and to learn about her perspective on these issues. Additionally, the National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science (NSAWS), WISHR's biennial conference, brings together undergraduates and graduate students, faculty, and administrative leaders from a wide range of academic institutions to discuss the positive changes which have occurred and to propose what else must be done. .
As a women in science group on campus, one of WISHR's key goals lies in addressing the continuing need for mentorship. Just as students have academic counselors for their concentrations, many women in the sciences may find it helpful during their college careers to seek the advice of female mentors, whether they be upperclassmen or inspirational scientists in their fields. WISHR is an organization that aims to facilitate these interactions.
Amidst this large variety of events and opportunities, board members are reminded continually that WISHR is, above all, an organization that aims to be responsive to its members' interests. That's why we have so many fun events like Valentine’s Day study breaks, chick flick movie nights and bra sales for breast cancer research, intermixed among more serious, career-driven events.
We hope to see you at a WISHR gathering soon!
About the Author
Francesca has been involved in WISHR since the beginning of freshman year and has loved being a part of such a strong community of fascinating women! She has served as the Chair of WISHR's Speaker Series Committee, as WISHR's Secretary, and is so thrilled to serve as its Co-President this year. Francesca has also worked to increase collaboration between science-, engineering-, mathematics-, and health-related organizations and has founded the Harvard College Science Cabinet to facilitate these joint events. When not pursuing her love of science, Francesca engages in operatic performances and study.
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