Science Alert
A meta-analysis of holiday merriments shows irrefutable evidence for gender-selective excitation energy exceeding measurable limits. Predictions for creativity, innovation and success in subsequent annum.
Annals of Warm Wishes for the Season (2015).

Happy Holidays from Graduate Women in Science

2016 National Conference Will Be in Raleigh, NC

Mark the Date! Rho Tau is proud to host our GWIS National Conference, “Educating Scientists for Effective Science Outreach”, next year in  Raleigh, NC June 23-25. During the National meeting, scientists from all career stages will have the opportunity to network, share their science and gain first-hand science outreach experience at a local science museum. Registration will open late February or early March.

Fellowship Reviewers Needed

The Fellowship Committee is looking for enthusiastic GWIS members who want to serve on the committee this year. It is a great opportunity to become involved in GWIS and to help hundreds of women in their academic and professional careers. Fellowship Committee members contact and solicit reviews for approximately 200 applications following the application deadline on January 8th. Committee members may be applicants, with provisions. If you are interested in serving on the committee, or have questions, please contact the Fellowships Committee Coordinator Vicky Cattani at

One in a Million: Thao Nguyen D. Pham
- Eta member relates the give and take of mentoring as a graduate student
Contributed by Thao Nguyen D. Pham, Eta Chapter

 Good mentorship is indispensible across all fields and levels, whether it be the sciences or the culinary arts, and from the excitable grad student to the training scientist. I have been fortunate to have learned from a number of phenomenal mentors, some of which have instilled in me a scientific curiosity and excitement that has led me to pursue a career in research.

Like many, I was uncertain about what I wanted to do after college. Not until the summer before my senior year did I decide to give research a whirl. Without any previous lab experience, and only having taken a couple molecular biology courses, the path was not as smooth as I had imagined. At the time, there were only a few labs on campus that would accept students without prior lab experience. I applied for all of them and heard back from only two. After having gone through two interviews, I received one offer. Even then, I was certain that I gave both PIs the same impression: someone who lacks certainty and direction, but has some vague interest in trying out science. I understood why a PI would be hesitant in taking such a person in, but I gave it a try. I joined the second lab for one summer, learned some very basic molecular biology techniques, and found that I enjoyed the lab environment a bit more every day. However, it wasn't until the last day of my appointment that my mentor told me what would become a point which I still hold close to my heart each day. After having watched me develop an appreciation for quality science, he told me that with quality mentoring, the door to science is open to anyone as long as they have even the slightest amount of interest. His first mentor had played a critical role in his development as a scientist, and he wanted to do the same for me. His faith in me and this philosophy has empowered and motivated me to focus on providing others a valuable mentoring experience.

With some research experience under my belt, I got more opportunities to work in other labs, before finally being offered a lab technician position at the time of my graduation. I learned valuable lab skills, and more importantly, gained insight from all the people I came across. The idea of being able to pass down these qualities to someone, and support them to do great things, prompted me to apply for graduate schools the year after. Since then, I have had the opportunity to be a mentor for junior graduate students in the lab. Very often I found myself frustrated from all of the work and responsibilities, but even more often, I saw the younger me reflected in them: a person who just needs good guidance to gain self-confidence and an appreciation for science. I came to realize that one of the challenges to being a great mentor is to overcome my doubts and impatience. Mentoring for me therefore has become a process of learning new virtues. I would not only need to know how to teach, but also how to instill drive and passion in those I guide. I would need to be a committed scientist before I could talk to people about dedication.

The field of science cannot move forward without insightful and dedicated scientists who would not come along without great mentors and invaluable mentorship. I always believe that as long as you have the motivation, you can always get involved in science. More than that, you can always choose to pass down the legacy of science and become a mentor.

Be One in a Million!
Did you know you can count your current mentoring relationships towards MWM?

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.

Mentors have the option of counting EXISTING mentorships established through their own contacts (e.g., research assistants, mentees through organizations such as GWIS, student mentees). Meaning, if you currently are mentoring a girl or woman in science, you can count that as your Million Women Mentors pledge. All you need to do is sign up on the Million Women Mentors portal and track the pledge! Alternatively, mentors have the option of CONNECTING with mentees through the Million Women Mentors web portal with one of 58 partners representing over 30 million girls and women across the nation. This portal is ideal for chapters looking to broaden their outreach and engagement with their local community.

By making the pledge to join Million Women Mentors, each mentor commits to spending at minimum 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. To sign up as a mentor with Million Women Mentors as an affiliate of GWIS, please follow this link. You simply need to create a MWM profile and make your pledge. Alternatively, if you already have a MWM profile, please consider becoming an affiliate of GWIS by entering the following PIN in your Million Women Mentors profile: 684894302-3276. For more information please visit or feel free to email the Omega Committee at

Volunteer with GWIS at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.!

Join GWIS at the USA Science & Engineering Festival on April 15-17, 2016. This festival is one of the largest and most exciting in the world! At the GWIS exhibitor booth, we will be demonstrating how red cabbage extract can be used as a pH indicator. We are looking for volunteers to help run the exhibit booth and for donations towards supplies for this booth.

If you are interested in science outreach, this is a great opportunity to share science with a large audience while volunteering with your fellow GWIS members! Click the button to sign up for a shift.

For questions or more information, please email

Collaborators Wanted
GWIS members who have experience with the diagnosis, surgery, and  treatment of breast cancer

One of our Omicron members recently has initiated her personal war against the breast cancer that has invaded her. She has discovered that there is precious little practical information on how to manage and cope with the poorly developed medical procedures used to diagnose and treat breast cancer. We seek experienced women in science who can contribute their ideas towards writing an article that would better prepare and provide understanding to all who must face breast cancer. We hope that our combined suggestions may help prioritization of research and development to ease unnecessary pain and improve outcomes against this terrible disease. If you have ideas for the text, please contact Robin Woo at by December 15, 2015.

On-line Book Club Starting Up

Is there a book you have been meaning to read, but just can't get going on it? Maybe one you've read and have been dying to discuss with like-minded people. Join our on-line book club! Organized by Omega leadership, but available to everyone, we will be choosing and discussing our favorite and most intriguing books about science, leadership, and women in science. You don't need to be a member to join! Interested readers should email

The Geoff Marcy Case: Progress in Addressing Sexual Harrassment?

In October, a BuzzFeed report broke the story that internationally reknown astronomer, Geoff Marcy, was being investigated for violating the sexual harassment policies at UC Berkeley, where he was employed as a professor. Four women alleged that Marcy repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students between 2001 and 2010, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping. The initial response from the university and media appeared mild; a private university investigation that took six months with no disciplinary action, the UC Berkely astronomy department chair indicating Dr. Marcy was the person most in need of support and understanding during the fallout (check out his message to the astronomy department), and a follow-up story by the The New York TImes that appeared sympathetic to Marcy. Considering Marcy's eminence in the hot field of exoplanetary astronomy and a long history of tolerance of harrassment at universities, a slap on the wrist and a promise to behave better for many seemed the status quo as consequence to the course of events. Therefore, the firestorm that swiftly ensued from the university and astronomy community was a welcome surprise to the accusers. An open letter signed by 278 international astronomers and physicists was sent to the Times within days of its original story condemning the news journal for going soft on Marcy, stating the article "epitomizes the culture that champions the voices of predators and minimizes the experiences of survivors." Another letter from Berkeley's undergraduate astronomy community accused the administration of UC Berkely of inadequate action and compromising the safety and well-being of its students. Letters from the UC Berkely astronomy faculty, postdocs, and graduate students were also submitted in support of the complainants and critical of the university in the handling of the case. Five days after the original BuzzFeed article was published, Marcy resigned.

Since then, university science departments and scientific societies have been discussing sexual harrassment in town hall meetings and advisory panels across the country. Women can only hope that this is the beginning of a new intolerance for sexual harrassment in the scientific community. In "How to End Sexual Harassment in Astronomy", published in Scientific American, Meg Urry, director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics and president of the American Astronomical Society, presents thoughtful insights on her observations of the insidious nature of sexual harrassment and its effect on women's psyche and their careers. She also proposes policies to protect young women, particularly early in their careers when they are most vulnerable to the people controlling the direction their career paths may take. Her advice can be applied to any scientific field and It is well worth a read.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this story is the way students in the astronomy community took control of their situation by creating a support group called the Astronomy Allies. Entrenched in a culture of tolerance to harrassers, Katey Alatalo and Heather Flewelling, astronomy undergraduates at UC Berkeley, created the group primarily to provide safety to students at astronomy conferences where women, including Flewelling, had experienced harrassment. Group members could contact each other for help by phone, text or email if they found themselves in a difficult situation. The group debuted at the 2015 American Astronomical Society conference in January, its members wearing red buttons to make their presence known. Since then, Allies have continued to serve as support contacts for students experiencing harrassment. The awareness the group promulgated by their presence may well have contributed to the concerted reaction by the astronomy community following the Geoff Marcy allegations.

Additional Sources:
Ghorayshi, Azeen (November 11, 2015) "Here’s How Geoff Marcy’s Sexual Harassment Went On For Decades". BuzzFeedNews
Grinberg, Emanuella (November 4, 2015) "How to make science safer for women". CNN

What Should I Do if I'm Experiencing Sexual Harrassment?
Contributed by Sarah Soderlund, Xi Chapter

The workplace can be both a supportive and creative environment but it can also become an awkward, uncomfortable, and even volatile situation if sexual harassment becomes a stressor in the daily workplace. Workplace harassment is not specifically addressed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects most employees against discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. However, the United States Supreme Court has interpreted harassment that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive” and that creates a hostile working environment as a violation of that federal law. For students, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sexual harassment within schools and universities. "Sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Because sexual harassment is subjective to both the perpetrator and the victim, the linguistics of what is severe or pervasive can create loopholes for those struggling through an uncomfortable working environment. For women who have experienced sexual harassment in their own workplace, their advice has proven to be a great learning tool and their bravery to step forward amidst a negative workplace situation is likely to help others in the same scenario. If you have, are, or know someone who is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. The following are some useful pieces of advice for women who believe they are being harrassed.

Consult your employee handbook or policies. If your employer has a sexual harassment policy in place, follow it.
Document. Put complaints in writing. Take notes on the harassment and be specific in your details — note the time and place of each incident, what was said and done including your responses, and who witnessed the actions.
Address directly. If you feel safe speaking directly to the person harassing you, it can be empowering to address that person directly. Take these steps:
Explain what behavior is bothering you. Name the behavior and be specific. Tell the harasser that their attention or behavior is bothering you. Ask the harasser to stop the behavior.
Inform your supervisor or higher authority. Tell your supervisor about the behavior and the steps you have taken to address it. If your supervisor is not available or is not responsive or trustworthy, seek out an individual with sufficient authority over your harrasser or the human resources department.
File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you believe you have a Title VII claim, you have the right to file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, the federal agency charged with enforcing many anti-discrimination laws. Be aware you have only 180 days (six months) from the date of the discriminatory activity to file a discrimination charge. You do not need an attorney to file a complaint. The EEOC’s website offers instructions on filing a charge. For students, contact your campus' Title IX Coordinator or the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

National Hotlines & Resources
9 to 5: National Association of Working Women 1-800-522-0925
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 1-800-669-4000
Equal Rights Advocates 415-621-0672 1800-839-4372 24 hr line: 415-621-0505
AAUW Know Your Rights: Workplace Sexual Harassment
Feminist Majority Foundation: Sexual Harrassment


Support Group for Victims of Harrassment

Graduate Women in Science would like to provide a support group for victims of sexual harrassment. If you have been affected by harrassment and would like to discuss and share resources with other women in a private, safe, on-line environment, please contact Broadcaster editor, Jane Sharer Maier.

Kappa Rho announces Hershey Award Winner

 Taryn Mockus, a Neuroscience Graduate Student at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine is the recipient of the GWIS Hershey Award. Taryn has founded and organized various groups that help women on campus and in the community including the “Graduate Student Project Fellowship” group for science eduction of elementary school girls and  the "Near Peer Mentoring Program” to facilitate the interaction of summer undergraduates with graduate students. Taryn's research examines the effect of gamma interferon on the progression of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in the brain.

GWIS Reminders

Our 2016 SDE-GWIS Fellowships Are Now Open!

The SDE-GWIS National Fellowships Program offers Fellowships in aid of research to encourage women in the sciences. Graduate students, postdocs and early career faculty women holding a degree and conducting hypothesis-driven research anywhere in the world are welcome to apply. Endowment funds provide the available funds each year, and the number of awarded Fellowships will thus vary from year to year. Last year SDE-GWIS distributed $75,000 in funds to ten outstanding women scientists. Application for the SDE-GWIS Fellowships is offered at no cost to current GWIS members, as a member benefit. For non-members, an application processing fee of $50 is required. We will be receiving applications until 11:59 pm on January 8th, 2016. Winners will be notified in mid-July 2016. If you have any questions, please contact the SDE-GWIS Fellowships Coordinator Vicky Cattani at

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?

Call for National Officer Nominations

Nominations are being taken for the following National GWIS Offices:
President-Elect; Serves one year, automatically advances to President
Vice-President; Serves one year, advances by election to President-Elect
Member of the Board of Directors; Serves a 5 year term with fifth year as Chair, usually a past National GWIS Officer
Omega Chapter Committee Member; Serves a three year term with third year as Chair
Nominating Committee Member; Serves a three year term with third year as Chair
Treasurer; Serves a two year term
Corresponding and Recording Secretary; Serves a two year term

Nominees must be in good standing with dues paid, and must subscribe to the objectives of GWIS. Forms must be received by the Nominating Committee no later than 5:00 pm on January 15, 2016.

Evidence that Women Who Lean In Make an Impact

A new study shows that women are able to overcome the predisposition to give men more credit for their leadership abilities, by being more forceful when organizing the team's work, suggesting creative ways to tackle problems and going outside the team for new resources. The study, recently published in the Academy of Management Journal, found that when women were more assertive with these tasks, they were rated higher by their teammates in a survey of 181 MBA candidates (72% or whom were men) working on team projects at large research universities. The study upholds the principle popularized by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, that women should "lean in" rather than "hold ourselves back in ways both big and small by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back."
Business Insider

Social Media, Science, and Gender

Sexist journal reviews, Geoff Marcy, #Distractinglysexy, and #SciShirt; social media has enabled an increasingly public discussion about the persistent problem of sexism in science, providing a sense of solidarity and community for women across disciplines. Research has shown when women tweet about sexism, it improves their sense of well-being. Downsides include the exclusion of smaller minority groups and internet backlashes that can leave some women feeling harrassed and unsafe. [Note: For safe discussions, the GWIS Facebook site is visited mainly by women ;) ]

Abundant STREAM Gifts for Girls

The hot acronym in toys is now STREAM (Stem, Tech, Robotics, Engineering, Art, and Math) GoldiBlox is still a big seller, but more options have been introduced for toys marketed to girls this year. Included are toys for building girl-friendly objects such as dollhouses, ferris wheels, and robots with all the bells and whistles, including lessons in coding. Lottie Dolls and Project MC2 and even Barbie are getting real with dolls dressed for astronomy, lab sciences, paleontology, and medicine. Programmable bracelets allow girls to communicate with their friends and parents using an iOS or Android app.
Huffington Post
Scientific American

New Study Shows Little Difference Between Men and Women's Brains

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel used existing sets of MRI brain images and data from diffusion tensor imaging to measure the volume of gray matter and white matter in the brains of more than 1400 individuals. They found all brains seem to share a patchwork of forms; some that are more common in males, some in females, or some in both. The team also analyzed two large datasets that evaluated highly gender stereotypical behaviors and found individuals were just as variable for these measures.

UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030

The sixth edition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) global science report was released on November 10th. Global investment in research and development continues to rise, particularly in China, but research focus is shifting from basic to applied. An entire chapter is devoted to examining the persistent gender gap in science as women continue to fall behind, constituting a minority of only 28% of researchers worldwide. “Each step up the ladder of the scientific research system sees a drop in female participation until, at the highest echelons of scientific research and decision-making, there are very few women left.”
UNESCO Science Report




"Even a broken system cannot break a whole woman."
— Dana Theus, InPower Women

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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