November 19, 2015

WiSER Takes Off!

By Crystal Mendoza

Women in Science and Engineering Research (WiSER) has one mission: To support the success of women in research by providing opportunities for career development, networking with women leaders, identifying strong mentors, and developing a meaningful community for women in biomedical research at Mayo Clinic. They are off to a great start!

The group, founded by Kay Pepin and Mekala Raman, began with one key observation: women within Mayo Graduate School make up over half of the students (62%), both PhD and MD/PhD, but that number is not reflected in the Research Fellow population where men make up 62%. The gender disparity is even more striking for faculty, where women comprise only 21% of full faculty. These startling statistics are not unheard of for most academic and research institutions, however. In the United States, women still lag behind men when it comes to science and engineering faculty positions. So how do we encourage women to apply for faculty positions and increase representation of women in the STEM job force, and thereby fix the leaky pipeline?


Statistics provided by Kay Pepin and Mekala Raman.

Statistics provided by Kay Pepin and Mekala Raman.


Here at Mayo, WiSER has made it their goal to educate women by providing seminars, coffee chats, and integrating a community through book club discussions and other informal events. By bringing successful women to Mayo, whether they be alumna or not, WiSER provides new insight into how women can attain their career goals. The discussions are raw, and true; no two women have had the same story, but all have their own successes. As a participant, I have been fortunate to sit in with amazing women and listen to them talk about their life and how they got there.

These seminars not only provide insight into potential career options, but allow for women to network with other women. Female faculty that participate and lead these sessions also give insight to their own struggles, and offer advice to graduate students, fellows, and postdoctoral researchers looking at the next step. As a female graduate student, I look forward to future sessions WiSER has to offer, and am thankful for the resources they have provided.

For future sessions, please refer to WiSER’s intranet site. To be added to the mailing list, please contact Mekala Raman or Kay Pepin.

Editor’s Note:
Please refer to the following blog posts for more information about women and the gap:
Does gender bias benefit women in academia? By Clara Castillejo-Becerra
Sexism in science: does it still exist? By Stella Hartono
The Struggle for Women in Science By Jessica Silva
Why aren’t more white males a part of the Lean In discussion at Mayo Clinic? By Rielyn R. Campbell
Gender Equality: Women’s Rights are Human Rights by Wells B. LaRiviere

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