Women in STEM: Elon — a student organization formed early last spring, provides a community of individuals who aspire to support women in all disciplines within the science, technology, engineering and math fields, according to their president Anna Sheinberg.
WIS:E is a student organization open to women in STEM along with individuals who are interested and support STEM. The executive board encourages campus-wide involvement to not only to network but understand how the world works.
WIS:E adviser and assistant professor of chemistry Anthony Rizzuto specifically focuses on supporting women by providing them with a tangible skill set to assist them in their future endeavors. Rizzuto wanted to guide and mentor a group of women in STEM, who in turn would mentor younger women as well.
“The goal is to support the women and to provide mentors and leadership examples in STEM. There are groups dedicated on campus to supporting people wanting to go into healthcare; that is not the focus of this group,” Rizzuto said. “This is specifically trying to go into science, technology, engineering and math.”
In the past, speakers have virtually met with members of WIS:E to speak about their experiences as a woman in STEM or at Elon. Emily Adams ʼ11, who has a job with NASA and uses satellite imagery to analyze Earth, was a recent speaker. During the event, Adams mainly spoke about how she felt supported as a woman in STEM at Elon and how, in her master’s program, where nearly all the people in her labs were men, she faced times when people took credit for her work.
Sheinberg said she’s excited about how this club at Elon has been able to empower women in STEM.
“We are a female-dominated school that translates to our STEM departments which is awesome,” Sheinberg said.
Sheinberg also noticed most student organizations were geared toward pre-health but not chemistry or biology.
“We wanted to branch out and bring out speakers from a variety of disciplines and connect our undergraduate women from the STEM fields,” Sheinberg said
WIS:E hopes to host Madeleine Poirier and Cheri Ackermam in the spring. Poirier is an Elon alumna who graduated in 2020, currently working for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a nonprofit organization working toward conserving the white shark population. Ackermam, the first non-Elon alumna to speak, is co-founder and CEO of Concerto Biosciences, biotechnology research focusing on the relationship between microbes and humans.
Sheinberg said she is excited about the future events that will be open to women in STEM and anyone else interested. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WIS:E has been meeting with speakers virtually. Therefore, allowing students to interact with women in the STEM field outside of a classroom, to gain knowledge and advice on resume tips, internships and what the field looks like post graduation.
“Personally, I like hearing from Elon alumni,” Sheinberg said. She stated that WIS:E has allowed for the increase of visibility and access to what the STEM community looks like. Through this student organization not only has Sheinberg viewed how the world works outside of Elon, but she has met friends involved within and outside STEM fields. “It is meant for anyone who identifies as an ally for women in STEM.”
WIS:E hopes to demonstrate what being in a STEM field looks like through the speakers they have hosted. Rizzuto expressed his support for campus-wide involvement to highlight the female experience in a male-dominated field.
“Everybody makes more progress if everyone is involved in the conversation,” Rizzuto said.
Students can get involved by joining WIS:E through Phoenix Connect or following their Instagram page @elon_wise to stay updated on any upcoming events.