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UW Graduate Women in Chemistry

The Graduate Women in Chemistry is an organization formed to provide support for female chemistry graduate students as well as to create opportunities for them to learn about various career strategies at this critical juncture in their professional lives. A central goal of our women in chemistry society is to build a sense of community within the Chemistry department through both social and professional development initiatives.

In 2004, the Graduate Women in Chemistry successfully planned and implemented several activities designed to fulfill this mission. These activities included organized social gatherings with both graduate students and female faculty from UW-Madison and other campuses. The Graduate Women also applied for an ACS Progress Lectureship Award. Using this funding, the graduate women invited Dr. Joanna Aizenberg from Lucent Technologies/Bell Labs to the UW Chemistry Department to give a Friday Colloquium. This Colloquium was very well attended, and Dr. Aizenberg’s visit gave the graduate women the opportunity to interact with Dr. Aizenberg on a personal level and learn about working in an industrial setting. One of our most successful activities was a WISELI-funded workshop entitled “Communication Techniques for Strategic Negotiation and Leadership” that attracted 100 attendees, both from chemistry and a variety of other sciences. Women who attended this workshop were very positive about its impact on their professional development.

In 2005, the graduate women continued informal meetings with visiting female professors. Graduate Women in Chemistry organized and obtained funding an ACS Career Services Workshop in September. The workshop was open to all graduate students in the department and focused on targeting the job market, resume writing and interview skills. In October, Graduate Women hosted Elaine Hubal from the EPA for a friday colloquium, which was funded by an ACS PROGRESS lectureship award.

In 2009, Graduate Women in Chemistry is continuing its mentoring program, which matches a junior student with an older graduate student in the same division. Informal mentoring meetings allow junior students to benefit from the experiences and perspectives of someone who has already successfully completed the first few years of graduate school. Common topics include coursework, how to choose and join a lab, and divisional requirements such as student seminars and research proposals.

Our organization facilitates informal meetings over lunch or for beer and ice cream at the terrace to discuss topics such as career options, balancing work and family, our research and non-work related topics. The purpose of these meetings is to build a sense of community within our department and, like all of our events, these meetings are open to both women and men in the department.

We continue to meet with visiting seminar speakers, which in the past have included scientists working in government labs or industry and tenured faculty at top universities as well as those just starting out in their careers. These meetings are informal Q&A sessions and allow graduate students to learn about how these women got to where they are now.

Our organization continues to gain enthusiastic members who have ideas for new projects. We hope that this momentum is sustainable and the organization can continue to provide support, a sense of community, and information and skills in order to enhance women chemists' experiences and success in graduate school.

For more information please contact Uzma Zakai .