Meet our chair, Colleen Zaccard! @colleenzaccard
1) Why did you start this initiative?
This initiative is a combined effort of postdocs and graduate students taking the lead to
improve the academic environment for women, rather than waiting for change to come from the top down. Gender bias is typically unconscious and pervasive at every level of academia, driving women out. The first step to change is raising awareness of unconscious bias, which is the theme of our 2019 IWD event. We learned from our recent inaugural event that the key supports local women in STEM are lacking are mentorship and professional networks. Without enough female faculty members to mentor the rising number of female students and postdocs, we are establishing peer mentoring circles supported by a large and inclusive local network of STEM professionals and students.
2) What inspired you?
Like the film industry, men hold most positions of power in academia and climates permissive to sexual harassment are commonplace. Watching the #MeToo
movement unfold on an international scale, I realized that women in STEM must together
seize the momentum, before this unique opportunity for rapid change passes us by. I am also continually inspired by the personal stories from other women in academia, and I
strongly believe that we must look beyond our own personal situations and career trajectories and work together toward a safe and equitable environment for all.
3) What is your long-term vision?
Our vision is an accelerated path to gender equity in STEM, with students and postdocs
form the world-class academic institutions and greater Chicago-area pioneering the change.
Together, the women of Chicago could have a huge reach, helping those women in negative
situations to rise above the challenges and reach their full potential to succeed in STEM.
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