Million Women Mentors Summit and Gala Event

On September 21st Tina Hill (Beta Chapter) and Mandy Pertzborn (Omicron Chapter) attended the Million Women Mentors (MWM) Summit and Gala event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. MWM is an organization that supports the effort to engage girls and women in STEM through mentoring. MWM is a collaboration between more than 120 partners including corporate, non-profit, and state groups. The MWM website is intended to connect mentors with mentoring opportunities available within existing organizations as well as keep track of the number of people mentoring women and girls in STEM. The summit was an opportunity to learn about the efforts of these various partners and how SDE GWIS can work with MWM. By the end of the summit there were nearly 500,000 pledges to mentor. The summit was composed of several panel discussions, keynotes, and special remarks. Some of the highlights are presented below.

Edie Fraser, the CEO of STEMConnector and MWM, was the host for the event and kicked off the summit with the motto: Teamwork makes the Dream Work. She brought one of her mentees on stage, a young woman who brought her four mentees on stage, demonstrating how a mentoring network can be built. The first speaker was Keisha Knight Pullman of The Cosby Show fame. Five years ago she created the Kamp Kizzy Foundation, which initially helped girls aged 11 – 16, teaching them to dream big. The foundation has been successful enough that it is now expanding to include boys. As Ms. Pullman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

The first panel discussion was composed of representatives from BP, Alcoa, Cigna, Corning, and Lockheed Martin. These high level representatives discussed how their companies approach mentoring and incorporate it into their daily efforts. All of the companies have versions of ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), CRGs (Colleague Resource Groups), or BRGs (Business Resource Groups) that are intended to help employees feel more engaged in the corporation and aid with retention. Natalie Schilling of Alcoa stated their goal as “diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” Redia Anderson of BP later added that part of creating a welcoming environment is not just asking someone to dance, but also letting them bring their own music. BP has created a women’s leadership council composed of 12 of the highest level women at BP mentoring younger women. The BP mentoring guide was distributed to all attendees to provide guidance to new mentors. It was exciting to see so many high level company executives emphasizing the importance of getting and retaining women in a changing workforce.

Representatives from Girls Inc, Girl Scouts, MentorNet, NAPE, NCWIT, and US2020 were part of a panel on the making of a good mentor. All of these organizations are examples of MWM partners who provide opportunities for mentors. The CEO of NCWIT defined two roles individuals can play, that of mentor or that of sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can further another person’s career because they have enough capital to be able to take a risk. For example, a sponsor may be someone who recommends another person for a job without any kind of formal mentoring program. People can play both roles to aid the career of another.

The Lt. Governors from Iowa and Indiana were joined by a State Senator from Tennessee in a discussion about state leadership in STEM. Tennessee recently passed a plan to provide funding for all high school graduates to attend a two-year institution. Any student who is accepted into the program must have a mentor. All of the state representatives discussed the importance of creating a more educated workforce for the future. In Tennessee, for example, less than 30% of the workforce has at least a Bachelor’s degree, but future needs require a workforce where at least 55% have a Bachelor’s degree. The representatives from all three states recognize the need for women to be part of this workforce and their states are working on programs to encourage women to enter and stay in STEM. The final panel of the day focused on the non-profit partners of MWM: Black Girls Code, FIRST, InRoads, and Techbridge. The CEO of Black Girls Code said that they focus on middle school age girls because by the time girls reach high school many have already fallen out of the pipeline. All of the CEOs emphasized the importance of reaching girls early. They also advised that girls want not just to get career advice, but to also connect at a more personal level with a mentor. The Gala was opened by the Science Cheerleaders. These women break through stereotypes: they love to dance and cheer, but they also love science. Both of the cheerleaders at the Gala have PhD’s and led us in a resounding cheer for S-C-I-E-N-C-E! The evening continued with more celebration of the efforts being made to encourage women in science. We left the day with high hopes and with more knowledge about how to get involved.

- Contributed by Mandy Pertzborn

Science Cheerleaders rev up the crowd

Gala attendees

SDE-GWIS is a Participant in Million Women Mentors

Graduate Women in Science has joined the Million Women Mentors movement! Million Women Mentors is a collaboration of partners across the nation working to support the mission of engaging one million science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentors to increase interest and engagement of girls and women in STEM programs and careers. Each mentor will commit to spending at least 20 hours working with a mentee over the course of one year. This can include a combination of face-to-face, online, telephone, or other types of interactions. Mentors can count existing mentorships established through their own contacts or connect through the Million Women Mentors web portal with one of 58 partners representing over 30 million girls and women across the nation. To sign up as a mentor with Million Women Mentors as an affiliate of SDE-GWIS, please visit the Million Women Mentors website, or enter the following pin in your Million Women Mentors profile: 684894302-3276. For more information please visit or email

Eta Chapter: Steps to Building Your Chapter from the Ground Up

In the spring of 2013, graduate students Katie Brooks, Traci Kantarski, Charlene McCord, and Stephanie Aguilar and longstanding Sigma Delta Epsilon member Elfriede Linsmaier-Bednar, resurrected the Chicago-area chapter of Graduate Women in Science. The Eta chapter of GWIS was officially incorporated in September of 2013 with the intention of gathering and supporting the brilliantly diverse women in science in the greater Chicagoland region. Our hope was to revitalize the zeal and strength the initial chapter enjoyed during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

During its first year, Chicago’s Eta chapter gathered several new members, held career-development workshops, and partnered with Chicago’s Goethe Institut, an establishment that has graciously allowed their building to be used for monthly meetings. This partnership helped us to connect with surrounding colleges and have a central and accessible location for our meetings. Eta members also volunteered for multiple after school science programs in Chicago’s South and West side schools and enjoyed teaching middle school students from traditionally underrepresented communities in the sciences to the basics of cell biology, evolutionary theory, and soil ecology. By the end of the first year there was a general consensus that the chapter was ready to make roots again.

From 2014 to present, the Eta chapter has been directed and molded by President Jacklynn Fitzgerald, Vice President Laura Cook, Secretary Tiara Perez Morales, Treasurer Charlene McCord, and National Liasion Elfriede Linsmaier-Bednar. Our first decision was to give the chapter a specific mission: To provide professional development opportunities to women in science within the Chicago area. From this set point, we moved forward to build the structural guidelines for our chapter. We’ve had numerous key conversations to determine the best practices to: (1) establish a centralized email system for all communications between Eta members and National, (2) create a timetable of monthly events at the beginning of the year (based on the needs of our membership), (3) generate expected budget expenses for the year, (4) create seasonal newsletters for members and guests, and (5) have regular officer meetings to ensure we are upholding Eta's mission statement and providing the best opportunities for our members. For our monthly meetings, we used surveys and partnerships with faculty to generate meaningful professional development seminars. We have attracted more members after creating a chapter travel award and a mentorship program for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students.

Our membership continues to grow, diversify, learn, and interact at our monthly events. We’ve had a wonderful time and we will continue to work hard for a chapter that takes women’s goals at work, family, and personal life to heart.

- Contributed by Tiara Perez Morales and Charlene McCord

Start a new chapter near you!

Starting a chapter is easy and only requires seven founding members. Find out how on our website.

Accepting Nominations for Honorary Members

We all know of women in the scientific community who are all-stars. Whether you saw them give a sublime presentation at a conference or have had the opportunity to interact with them through mentorship, these women embody what Sigma Delta Epsilon stands for. Now is your chance to nominate this very important person for the Honorary Membership Award. This award is for women scientists who have excelled at research and/or teaching. Nominating your choice couldn't be simpler! Just fill out the nomination form and hit submit! Why not nominate an amazing woman scientist today?

Guidebook Released for Early Career Women Scientists

The National Postdoctoral Association has released the Advancing Postdoc Women Guidebook, a guide with helpful information for not just postdocs, but any early career scientist. Individual chapters are devoted to utilizing professional societies and associations for career advancement, building and cultivating a mentoring team, career preparation and planning for jobs in academia and non-academic paths, and worklife and childcare resources. The guidebook is free and can be accessed on-line.

New Book Offers Personal Narrative to Problem of Underrepresentation of Women in Science

The Only Woman in the Room offers a personal account of Yale Physics graduate Eileen Pollack as she chronicles the influences that led her to abandon her dream as an astrophysicist early in her training to pursue literature instead. She revisits former teachers and classmates many years later to examine the social, interpersonal, and institutional barriers that confronted her and that still confront women and minorities in the STEM fields. Pollack calls for a cultural shift in American influences on young women and profiles new role models like a current group of female Yale postdocs who call themselves the “women who don’t give a crap”, who knit, think, program, talk girl talk, and don’t care about men's inappropriate expectations.

Have you read this book? Discuss it with other GWIS members in our on-line forum!

Nu Chapter Making News in Outreach

Nu chapter recently presented Grad School 101 to interested undergraduate students from different REU programs at Penn State: Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, and Chemical Engineering. The program aims to introduce undergraduate students in STEM fields to the possibility of attending graduate school. A typical programs consists of a brief talk covering topics such as the decision to attend graduate school, the application process/timeline, and tips for how to improve an application, as well as a panel of graduate students to discuss their own personal graduate school experiences. Additionally, Nu members, Valerie Alstadt, Delanie Losey, and Sarah Sihvonen participated in K-12 outreach program called "Think Outside the Beaker", organized by  the Penn State Science Outreach Office and covered by the local media. Look for Sarah in her "This is what a scientist looks like" T-shirt at the following link.

Disparity in Funding for Early Career Women Scientists

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports sex differences in institutional support for junior biomedical researchers while a Dutch study describes gender bias favoring male over female applicants in the prioritization of their “quality of researcher” evaluations and success rates.
Science Careers

The Power of Mentoring at NASA

Lybrease Woodard worked her way up from flight engineer to senior NASA executive as deputy director of the Mission Operations lab at Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA's pro-diversity culture encourages mentoring relationships, allowing women like Lybrease to rise and bring others with her.

Opportunity to Enrich Women Scientist Knowledge in Wikipedia

Oxford University is sponsoring a series of on-line training sessions October 12-15 to promote enriching information on women in science within Wikipedia. Not sure who you want to profile? Consider our Honorary members.
Bodleian Library

Youyou Tu Receives Nobel prize in Medicine

Youyou Tu is one of three recipients of the 2015 Nobel prize in medicine for her work in isolating the anti-malaria drug, artemisinin using her knowledge and research of ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Tu is the first Chinese national to receive the award in medicine.
BBC News

Get Involved with SDE-GWIS!

Support and be part of a growing network of women scientists.


Founded in 1921, Sigma Delta Epsilon-Graduate Women in Science is an inter-disciplinary society of scientists who collectively seek to advance the participation and recognition of women in science and to foster research through grants, awards and fellowships. We comprise 20 active chapters of over 800 women who are "United in Friendship through Science" to support and inspire member professional goals and mutual appreciation of science. Learn more at

Contact SDE-GWIS

PO Box 580140
Minneapolis, MN 55458

President: Laura Havens
SDE Broadcaster Editor: Jane Sharer Maier
Membership Secretary: Laura Arneson


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