News: AAAS 2008 Annual Meeting News Blog
Focus on "Remarkable Women" At Networking Breakfast
From left: Janilee Benitez, Kiah Sanders and Sara Ritchie
Published by the AAAS/Science Business Office, the booklet "Beating the Odds: Remarkable Women in Science" shares the secrets of women who juggle family and career, make their careers in industry and share their love of research with their communities, explained Science commercial editor Sean Sanders, who helped compile the volume. The booklet was created in partnership with the L'Oreal Foundation, which also supports the L'Oreal USA Fellowships for Women in Science program administered by AAAS.
As in years past, the breakfast was a mixture of old friends greeting each other over their coffee and students looking for a way to meet and learn from their future colleagues.
"We're part of the choir," joked Krishna Athreya, director of the Engineering Leadership Program at Iowa State University and repeat participant at the breakfast. "There's always new faces, and it's a good chance to re-energize on these issues."
Athreya and Anice Anderson, head of the engineering management department at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, said they have attended the AAAS Annual Meeting regularly for the past five years. "I look at it not as a general meeting, but as an interdisciplinary one" that reveals the linkages between scientific fields, Anderson said.
A few tables over, a group of first-time attendees was also impressed by the broad scope of Annual Meeting offerings. "I think science should be general to solve the problems in communities, instead of just being focused on results in one area," said Janilee Benitez, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.
Kiah Sanders, a biochemistry and molecular biology undergraduate at University of California, Irvine, traveled with a group of UC Irvine students to the meeting. She and fellow biological sciences undergraduate Sara Ritchie said they often discuss the challenges of underrepresentation of women and minorities at their school, and were glad to get a chance to network with researchers about these issues. "It's nice hearing what older and wiser people have to say about all this," Richie laughed.
The group also watched a short video produced by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) on an agricultural sciences fellowship program for women in East Africa. The video, which follows the transformation of "Thelma" from curious girl to highly-trained researcher, was introduced by Marla McIntosh, professor of natural resource sciences and landscape architecture at the University of Maryland.
McIntosh lamented the "triple bind" felt by minority women in agricultural sciences, a field that receives little notice despite the significant number of women farmers in the developing world. "But for you young people, it makes one hell of a career," she said.