Indiana Daily Student

Women in science are leveling the mortar board across genders

Organizations work to change trends

SPEA research scientist Stephanie Buehler is one of a few women in her field. She said because of that, she gets more funding and guidance in her work. \nBuehler is part of a growing trend of women who experts say are now receiving more support than ever in their pursuit for degrees in science, in part because of the growing number of societies dedicated to the advancement of women in science. \nNational organizations such as the Association for Women in Science have played significant roles at universities throughout the country as they work to connect women with peers and advisors for support throughout their educations and careers.\nAt the nation's oldest university, Harvard University, the institution advises and counsels women pursuing careers in science. Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe was started in the early 1980s by a group of undergraduates. Director of Physics Labs Margaret E. Law, a faculty advisor for Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe, said the group serves students looking for support.\n"I have found that it helps to talk to other women in situations like mine. It helps to know that problems I thought were just mine in fact are common to many other women." \nDr. Rita Colwell, the first female director of the National Science Foundation, said support groups describe the changing environment for women in science. "There's been a strong effort to recruit women into professional and managerial positions, but there is an enormously thick glass ceiling, and we don't see a lot of women whom are full professors, particularly at major universities, nor do we see many CEOs who are women." \nLocally, the Women in Science Program takes a proactive stance on encouraging women to major in science and stay in science as a career. In programs like "Breaking through the Glass Ceiling," there are advice sessions between graduate level and undergraduate female scientists, and contact with professional female scientists, \n WISP is attempting to open new opportunities and assist female scientists, said WISP project coordinator Leisel Iverson. Iverson said unequal treatment of women is a result of conscience and unconscience preconceptions of women. "The education system is the primary cause; it starts out early pushing women towards English and men towards mathematics." She said this is a trend of society in general ' not to be singularly placed on one step in the educational process. \n"Women are interpreted as not being able to dedicate themselves enough to science because they have babies," said Iverson. \nLori Watson, an inorganic chemistry research scientist and a recipient of the top women in science graduate fellowship said now is a good time to get into science. "The opportunities are out there … but there are not a great deal of role models."\nMeanwhile, Buehler enjoys the benefits of being a kind of pioneer, but sees her role's advantages and disadvantages. \n"It can be an advantage because women are underrepresented in this field, so great efforts are made to be sure that women are more well-represented in the sciences," she said. "However, there is also a distinct disadvantage for the same reason; women are underrepresented in the field. This means women must not only work toward their degrees but also work toward breaking down barriers that may exist in the field towards women"

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