UW News

January 25, 2007

Conference spotlights women in science

Don’t let the name deceive you: Next week’s conference on Women in Science & Engineering isn’t only for women — nor is it only for science or engineering students. The annual meeting is for anybody interested in promoting women in the sciences.

The day-long conference, now in its sixteenth year, is titled: “You… a kaleidoscope of opportunities.” More than 200 people will gather Saturday, Feb. 3, in the South Campus Center.

Many on campus are familiar with WiSE through its study center, mentoring programs and seminars to support women in science. Saturday’s session will be a smorgasbord.

“This is a collaboration of all the services that WiSE offers during the academic year,” said Cathryne Jordan, academic adviser in the College of Engineering and the WiSE coordinator. Different sessions will appeal to different kinds of students and to outreach professionals looking to attract more women to scientific professions.

Kicking off the program will be keynote speeches by Jude Garzolini, program manager at Hewlett-Packard and current president of the Society of Women Engineers, and Kara Millhollin, process engineer at BP.    Later on, participants can choose from as many as eight concurrent workshops. Some of the offerings are traditional career-building sessions such as “Choosing a Major” and “A Foot in the Door: Making the Most of Internships.”

Other offerings are less typical conference fare, such as “Wellness Workshop,” “Whose Life is it Anyway: The Science and Art of Living Your Life,” and “Faculty Life.” It’s part of promoting balance, Jordan said. “We recognize that women play many roles.”

One of the factors keeping women out of engineering, Jordan said, is the perception that this isn’t a career path for humanitarian goals. To challenge that notion, scientists and engineers on the “Making Life Better” panels will speak about how they use their professions to make the world a better place.

Over the lunch hour, local women entrepreneurs will have items for sale at vendors’ tables. At the same time, conference-goers will have a chance to chat with women faculty and industry representatives from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, CH2M HILL, Genie and Boeing.

“Our main goal is to create a supportive network and atmosphere for female students, and faculty, to be successful in science and engineering,” Jordan said. “Studies show that the success of women students in engineering and science is related to the community that they have within the major.”

The conference has sold out for the past three years. So Jordan encourages anybody who’s interested to sign up soon.

Sessions run from 8:45 am to 4:30 pm; participants can register online at www.engr.washington.edu/wise/conference. Registration fees, including lunch, range from $0 to $40.