Mawrs Symposium on Women in Science: Exploring
Critical Issues and Opportunities
By Dorothy Wright
can schools and colleges best use new learning
technologies to advance girls interest and
education in science? What strategies succeed
in breaking through barriers to women in start-up
technology businesses? How should colleges prepare
women who are not majoring in science and math
to succeed in a world where literacy in these
areas is a necessity of modern life?
are among the timely questions that will be addressed
by Bryn Mawr alumnae, members of the Association
of Women in Science, educators, public-policy
makers and business leaders participating in a
Bryn Mawr College symposium titled "Women
in Science: Opportunities in a Changing Landscape,"
scheduled for October 26-27, 2001. Co-sponsored
by the Colleges Center for Science in Society,
the symposium is designed to shed light on todays
issues and opportunities for women in science.
is not the same world it was 25 years ago, when
there were almost no women pursuing advanced degrees
and careers in the sciences," says Ruth Lindeborg,
associate director of foundation and corporate
programs at Bryn Mawr College, and the symposiums
key organizer. "Indeed women have transformed
these institutions. But we are not where we should
be today, as girls and women all along the pipeline
disproportionately leave science education and
careers. To facilitate change, we first need a
better understanding of current issues and challenges
for women in science education and careers."
in the symposium will identify common ground through
an opening panel discussion among five distinguished
women working in various science settings, including
traditional corporations, government research
agencies and entrepreneurial start-ups. Moderated
by Catherine Didion, executive director of the
Association of Women in Science, the panelists
will share their observations about their professional
fields and workplaces.
is significant that this symposium is taking place
at Bryn Mawr, which has fostered womens
interest in the sciences," Didion says. "In
the past, many institutions have seen scientists
as being born rather than created. Yet for young
women, having an opportunity to explore all avenues
of interest and to see role models including
women of color is critical. I hope this
symposium will discuss some of these traditionally
will include Maria-Luisa Maccecchini, president
and CEO of Annovis Inc.; Priscilla Perkins Grew
'62, professor of geology and former vice chancellor,
University of Nebraska; and Anne M. Thompson 78,
atmospheric chemist at the NASA Goddard Space
panelists will provide attendees with a view of
the state of women in science and technology,
identifying institutional changes and emerging
opportunities both where these have occurred
and where they have not," Lindeborg says.
on Science Education and Careers
symposium will offer eight workshops focusing
on specific questions along two basic tracks
women in science education and in science careers.
The workshops will be convened by Maria Pellegrini
and Maxine Lazarus Savitz 58, who will consider
issues raised by panelists and elaborate on these
questions. Pellegrini is program director at the
W.M. Keck Foundation and former professor of biology
and dean of research at the University of Southern
California. A member of the National Academy of
Engineering and the National Science Board, Savitz
is general manager for technology partnerships
at Honeywell Corporation.
emphasis on workshops comes out of our goal to
collect participants recommendations about
practice and policy that can be applied in science
education at the pre-college and college levels
as well as in workplaces," Lindeborg explains.
workshops will run through Saturday morning, after
which participants will reconvene as a group to
share reports on their deliberations.
am looking forward to the BMC meeting as a way
to brainstorm for new activities to help change
the status quo," says Janice M. Hicks 80,
program director of analytical and surface chemistry
at the National Science Foundation, who is one
of the symposiums planners. "Bryn Mawr
is in a good position to provide leadership in
educating academic administrators and leaders
to create the kinds of changes needed to help
advance under-represented groups in science. Perhaps
we will find some catalysts for other segments
government, industry and professional societies
the highlights of the symposium will be a keynote
address by William Wulf, president of the National
Academy of Engineering. The symposium will close
with a national policy perspective on women in
science and technology.
Connections and Sparking Change
symposiums planners (see sidebar) believe
the event will help current faculty and alumnae
participants renew valuable connections. "Wed
like the symposium to serve as a springboard for
additional opportunities for alumnae to provide
their professional expertise for the benefit of
the departments where their training began,"
Lindeborg says. "We also hope to develop
a professional affinity list to facilitate ongoing
networking and discussion of women in science
facilitate beneficial changes in science education
and workplaces, the symposiums proceedings
will be posted on Bryn Mawrs Web site, followed
by a paper-based publication for public distribution.
"If we truly have a national agenda for increasing
the number of people moving into the science and
technology fields, we need concrete ways to promote
women among them," Lindeborg says. "We
believe the recommendations of our participants
can facilitate change.
we hope this is not the end, but the beginning
of a conversation about these issues."
Planners Represent Broad Perspectives
Grobstein, Eleanor A. Bliss Professor of Biology
and director of the Bryn Mawr College Center for
Science in Society.
Hughes, professor of mathematics.
McCormack, associate professor of physics.
Sheridan Eng 88, Lucent Technologies
Frase 79, director, World Wide Applications,
Interconnect Products, IBM Microelectronics Division.
Hicks 80, program director, Analytical
and Surface Chemistry, National Science Foundation.
Horn 71, education and outreach coordinator,
Fralin Biotechnology Center, Virginia Tech University.
Perine 80, president and CEO of Interpretech
and former deputy technology adviser, White House
Office of Science and Technology.
Pari Sabety 77, director, Technology
Policy Group, Ohio Supercomputing Center.
About the Author
Dorothy Wright contributes
news and feature articles on science, technology,
engineering and general interest topics to a variety
of publications, including Civil Engineering,
Engineering News Record and Bryn Mawr