Women in STEM event to address gender pay gap, overcoming barriers

Faculty, staff and graduate students will gather for the fifth Empowering Women in Science and Engineering (EWISE) symposium on Wednesday, May 23, in Stocking Hall. The all-day symposium is open to graduate students, postdoctoral associates, researchers and faculty members.

“This is an excellent networking opportunity to bring individuals committed to supporting women in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] together to participate in professional development workshops, to learn from one another and from invited speakers, and to celebrate achievements,” said Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement.

Hernández organized the first EWISE symposium in 2007, when she was with Diversity Programs in Engineering. She said the climate for women in STEM fields is improving, but challenges remain. The symposium is designed to give attendees opportunities to learn from those with diverse experiences and perspectives.

Shirley Malcolm, director of education and human resources programs with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will deliver the keynote address, “Driving Transformative Institutional Change – Personal and Institutional Perspectives.”

Francine Blau, the Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, will lead the plenary session, “The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends and Explanation.”

“Over the past 30 years there has been a dramatic decline in the gender pay gap. Women working full-time, year-round used to earn just 60 percent of what men do; now it is about 80 percent,” said Blau. She plans to address the reasons for the decrease in the pay gap and why a substantial gap remains.

Melissa Thomas-Hunt, vice provost for inclusive excellence and professor of management at Vanderbilt University, will run the workshop, “Leveraging Expertise to Drive Your Team and Your Own Performance.”

“Effectively leveraging expertise is critical to innovating and getting credit for knowledge contributions. In our session and during the conference, we’ll explore what gets in the way and how we can move past barriers,” said Thomas-Hunt.

The conference kicks off with breakfast at 9:30 a.m., followed by opening remarks by Julia Thom-Levy, vice provost of academic innovation and associate professor in physics.

“We all need networks and support structures to thrive,” Thom-Levy said. “Events like EWISE are important for us to connect to other women at Cornell, to talk about science and life, and to build community.”

Closing remarks will be given by Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, at 3:30 p.m.

“EWISE is a biennial opportunity to share and celebrate the progress made for women in STEM,” Knuth said, “and also to identify what still needs to be done to truly achieve an equitable climate. I look forward to the ideas that will develop from this year’s event.”

Registration remains open until May 17. There is no fee to attend.

EWISE is sponsored by Diversity Programs in Engineering, the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, the Office of Postdoctoral Studies, the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning. The President’s Council on Cornell Women provided financial support.

Lori Sonken is communication and program manager for the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.

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Lindsey Knewstub