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Celebrating women in STEM The IWISCI conference aims to support young women entering STEM fields

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By: Donna Nadeem

McMaster students and faculty came together on Feb. 11, the United Nations recognized day of Women in Science and Technology, to celebrate and empower women in science and technology during their International Women in Science day conference.

McMaster biochemistry and health sciences students developed the IWISCI day conference in 2017 as a small event that was focused on women in science and what kind of careers women have after a biochemistry degree. Due to the high interest, it was turned into a day-long conference that not only focused on biochemistry, but women in all branches of sciences.

“We keep trying to keep an open forum for people to talk and kind of understand the gender disparity or the gender inequities that exist in the field of science and how we can fix them and work forward to creating an equitable environment,” said Inna Ushcatz, co-chair of the IWISCI 2018 conference.

The conference will celebrate women’s contributions to research, healthcare and industry. The conference also aims to encourage gender equity, empower peers and offer advice from mentors and supporters.

“Sometimes, especially when your at such an exceptional school, like McMaster, it’s easy to feel like your in this bubble and that everything is great, people are so welcoming to… women in science but what I realized with talking to people who were actually in the work force and have their careers in academia and in science, it’s not as good as it could be, so I’m starting to realize how things could be a lot better and it’s important to have this conversation,” said Ushcatz.

We keep trying to keep an open forum for people to talk and kind of understand the gender disparity or the gender inequities that exist in the field of science and how we can fix them and work forward to creating an equitable environment

 

Inna Ushcatz
Co-chair of the IWISCI 2018 conference

The conference consisted of two keynote speakers, Prof. Charu Kaushic who is a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University, and Prof. Stacey Ritz, the assistant dean of the bachelor of health sciences program and an associate professor in pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster.

The conference also featured two panels and three workshops that focus on important topics of giving women communication tools to speak with confidence both in professional and personal settings, gender inequalities in the workplace and the perspectives on women in science over the years.

The IWISCI executive team hopes to reach out to high schools in the area for future conferences. They want to provide them with workshops that they have as a portion of the conference, and take that to the schools to try and encourage high school students who are who are interested in the science field as a future career path. The executive team also plans on trying to branch out to elementary schools in later years, to encourage student as early as possible of the career they could have in the science.

“From last year we learned what people wanted to see from the conference so we are trying to facilitate that this year,” said Michelle Lohblihler, co-chair of the IWISCI 2018 conference.

The IWISCI community is focused not only on bridging the barrier between McMaster students and professors, but also extending and promoting women’s access to and participation in the field of sciences in the Hamilton community.

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