Oviatt Spotlight: Women in Science and Engineering

Contributed by David Morck

WISE was established in 2009 by Professor Emerita Bonita J. Campbell, with a mission “To encourage women to build careers in the fields of science and engineering; to advance in their careers; to preserve the story of women who have pioneered in the science and engineering disciplines; and to inform leaders and educators about the contribution that women make in these important fields.”  Part of accomplishing this mission is to host events that celebrate and promote women’s achievements in science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) fields.  Over the past few years, there have been numerous successful events that have helped promote women in the sciences.

Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, a retired NASA astronaut, former President and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and current Executive Director of Wings Over Washington came to campus in 2011 to make a presentation.  She shared the experiences and challenges she faced in pursuing a career and her time at NASA.  After her presentation, she fielded questions from the audience and provided insight into why women should pursue careers in science and engineering. As she said in her presentation, “I think if you’re lucky, somewhere in life you find something that is a passion.”  Her presentation is available on YouTube.

Other leaders and mentors in STEM fields have come out to make presentations, such as Jill S. Tietjen, President and CEO of Technically Speaking, and co-author of the bestseller Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America.

In addition to presentations, WISE has hosted annual events for the past two years.  STEM: Education Challenges and Career Opportunities, was first held on Pi Day (March 14) in 2013.Most recently, a networking opportunity and mixer was held at the campus Orange Grove Bistro  for a Pre-Pi Day Celebration (March 13, 2013). The Education Challenges and Career Opportunities events have drawn panelists from a great many different organizations, such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Nestlé, in order to provide mentorship and insights into careers in STEM fields.  Full video and Presentations are available at http://library.csun.edu/WISE/Pi-Day

Student and Mentor during the Drop in Take Ten Event

Another annual WISE event is Drop In – Take Ten.  These gatherings provide a space for representatives from professional organizations,  as well as women who work with science and technology, to do “speed mentoring” sessions with students interested in pursuing education and careers in STEM-oriented fields.  This past year, the event grew noticeably and drew a large and diverse crowd of professionals and students.

In addition to  the fantastic events that WISE continues to provide, the endowment established the Women in Science and Engineering study room on the second floor of the Library, and has developed a collection for the Library focused on Science and Engineering. (Browse the Bonita J. Campbell Endowment Collection). WISE also sponsors a generous scholarship that is awarded each year to one of the Oviatt’s student employees during the annual Library Student Employee Appreciation Luncheon. 

The Oviatt Library is delighted with our partnership with WISE, and we look forward to many more years of great events and opportunities that promote women pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  If you would like to learn more about past events, upcoming events, or find out how you can contribute to WISE, please visit the WISE Homepage on the Library website.