From October 11 – 14, the Wisconsin Science Festival will host a variety of panel discussions and breakout sessions, as well as fun and educational activities for science enthusiasts of all ages, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.
The festival’s first day will feature a deep dive into entrepreneurship resources for women as well as a deep dive into the hurdles women and people of color face entering fields of science will take place. The panel, entitled “Wanted: More Marie Curies and Percy Julians,” will being at 2 pm on October 4 at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
The title refers to Marie Curie, a woman who helped discover radioactivity, and Percy Julian, an African American chemist who pioneered chemical synthesis of medicines from plants.
An expert panel will explore why women and people of color remain underrepresented as inventors, leaders and entrepreneurs and provide a look at the data, systemic causes and implications and experts will give their unique perspectives of the causes.
The panel will meet from 2 – 3:30 p.m. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, vice president of research intelligence at Elsevier, Dr. Dominique Carter from the National Science Foundation, Deborah Bial, the founder and director of the Posse Foundation, Markus Brauer, a professor of psychology at UW Madison, and Jo Handelsman, the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will all be on the panel.
Following the panel, groups will split up for breakout sessions beginning at 3:45 which will provide perspectives on how to reverse the trends discussed by the panel.
“The festival is an annual event but this year, in particular, what we’re interested in is the mini-symposium on broadening participation in STEM,” Laura Heisler, Director of Programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation told Madison365. “It’s something that came up because we had research that showed women and people of color as underrepresented. So we wanted to broaden that study.”
Heisler said that psychology research shows how being outside the mainstream affects women and people of color on several levels in business and things like choosing scientific fields as career opportunities. Over the course of the afternoon on October 11, the breakout sessions will focus on several areas that describe how different groups are marginalized in the workplace.
“What we’re trying to do is bring people in to talk about these challenges. Dr. Dominique Carter will lead a workshop for people of color about pursuing entrepreneurship. We will have a breakout on a study looking globally at who participates in science. We’ll have another breakout on recognizing bias and how to confront it. How do people who are not being heard deal with that? Professor Jo Handelsman will show a video.”
Workplace-related boards rarely include people of color and women, and many, if not most, don’t always feel as though they have the same voice as others. Heisler says that is a conversation we need to have.
“We’re going to hear from various people in the educational pipeline talk about why people of color and women are underrepresented,” she said. “It could be kids not being encouraged early in school to become scientists, or not being mentored. So that’s really what we’re going to be talking about.”
The panel and breakouts will also focus on what goes on in other countries around the world as it pertains to women and people of color pursuing STEM fields and what the implications of that data are.
“We’ll be talking about causes, impacts and implications,” Heisler said. “We’re digging into the nuances into what happens in different countries and recognizing biases.”