Roundtable Series to Address Women's Retention in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers

January 2010 By

OXFORD, Miss. - Women's retention in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the focus of five free, public programs this spring at the University of Mississippi.

Each program in the series, "Roundtable Mentoring and Student Retention: What Women Need to Know to Survive and Succeed in STEM Careers," is scheduled 6-7:30 p.m. in Johnson Commons Ballroom in conjunction with a dinner, and reservations are required. Contact the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at 662-915-5916 or isomctr@olemiss.edu.

Meeting dates and topics are as follows:
Feb. 4 - "Women in STEM" (RSVP by noon Feb. 2)
Feb. 16 - "Career Options in STEM" (RSVP by Feb. 9)
March 9 - "Career vs. Home: A False Dichotomy" (RSVP by March 2)
April 6 - "Does Gender Bias in the Workplace Exist?" (RSVP by March 30)
April 22 - "Answers to All the Questions You Did Not Ask But Wanted To" (RSVP by April 15).

The series, sponsored by UM's female science faculty and the Isom Center, is funded by a grant from the American Association of University Women Campus Action Program.

"Representation of women in STEM careers is disproportionate to the number of women entering undergraduate studies in STEM fields," said Mary Carruth, Isom Center director. "Female representation falls precipitously as females move through the training and career pipeline."

The primary goals of the STEM roundtables are to enhance camaraderie among female STEM students, provide informal mentoring between faculty and students and facilitate discussion of difficult issues that may preclude a student from remaining in a STEM discipline, and start a student affiliate chapter of the AAUW, Carruth said.

Warigia Bowman, assistant professor of public policy leadership, and Tamar Goulet, associate professor of biology, are the principal investigators of the project. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the College of Liberal Arts matched this grant.

"The Isom Center is delighted to partner with the American Association of University Women to encourage UM women to pursue and stay in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," Carruth said. "The AAUW has documented the unfortunate shortage of girls and women preparing to work in STEM careers in its research reports, AAUW's Tech Savvy (2000) and Women at Work (2003). Its forthcoming report on women in STEM will be released later this spring in time for us to share its findings at the roundtables."

The Isom Center for Women was established at UM in 1981 to advocate for women and to educate the campus and community about diverse women's and gender issues. The center houses the gender studies program and sponsors programming. UM has provided educational opportunities for women longer than any other state university in the South. When the university opened its doors to women in 1882, 11 women registered for classes. Women constitute more than half the student body.

For more information or to request assistance related to a disability, contact the Isom Center at 662-915-5916 or isomctr@olemiss.edu. To learn more, visit http://www.sarahisomcenter.org/.