Friday, September 25, 2009

Student Support Groups: How to Build Them and Do They Work?

This post is also on the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing blog; check it out!

I'm part of a group of amazing women who are presenting a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session at 4:30 on Thursday October 1. It's called Support Groups for Women in STEM: International Perspectives:
Retaining women in STEM fields has been a challenge globally. Studies suggest that peer support, mentoring, and female role models help. This session brings together student leaders from around the world to discuss the strategies and challenges of building and sustaining support groups. Are these groups working? Surprising results from our research will be presented in this interactive discussion with group leaders.
I'm really excited about this talk. The five executives of Carleton University's Women in Science and Engineering (aka CU-WISE) - Barbora, Natalia, Serena, Lindsay, and me - will be showing you how we rebuilt our group. We started only a couple of years ago from nothing, but you wouldn't know it if you saw us today! We believe everyone can be successful in creating a similar support group, whether it be for students or industry professionals.

The second part of the talk is also going to be very interesting. Students from the Women in Computer Science group at Simon Fraser University and from MenTe (Mujeres en Tecnologia) in Mexico will tell us about their research on how well these student support groups are actually working.

Whether you can attend our talk or not, you can participate in the conversation! We have set up a website called Support Groups for Women in STEM, where we have posted all kinds of useful links and resources for you. We hope you will leave comments on the pages and come with all kinds of great ideas and questions in Tuscon!