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Empowering Scientists Through Opportunities for Presentation, Conversation, and Collaboration with Women in Medical Physics

C Steffel*, A Weisman , M Meyerand , University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI


(Sunday, 7/29/2018) 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Room: Exhibit Hall

Purpose: Diversity and inclusion efforts in Medical Physics (MP) are growing. Yet, a disparity exists between the proportion of females established as professionals to those in training. A student-directed initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison secured funding to connect MP students, residents, and faculty to accomplished women professionals working in MP careers.

Methods: Graduate students obtained seed funding with department support and through a grant program that provides funding for events supporting women in STEM careers. The program includes colloquiums, individual or small-group meetings, and opportunities for discussion and networking with an invited guest at Women’s Luncheons and receptions. Events are publicized via message board, email, and poster. Programs are evaluated via anonymous surveys distributed electronically after each event.

Results: Since Spring 2017, two guests (both tenured faculty from other institutions) have participated in the program. Students, residents, staff, and faculty across several departments (MP, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Radiology, and Human Oncology) attended events held with these guests. A larger Women’s Luncheon was held for one guest (37 attendees); however, survey results suggested that such events, while promoting accessibility, do not provide direct engagement with the guest. In addition, small-group discussions at this event often became off-topic. Consequently, a smaller event (13 attendees) was held for the second guest, with most attendees reporting that they preferred the opportunity to interact directly and candidly with the guest. All attendees of the smaller event indicated they were extremely likely to attend similar events in the future. Two guests will participate in the program in Spring 2018 (one industry professional, one clinical Medical Physicist).

Conclusion: An emerging program aims to increase diversity and inclusion in MP through opportunities for discussion, networking, and mentorship with women working in MP careers. Event attendees report positive experiences with feedback and suggestions for future events.

Funding Support, Disclosures, and Conflict of Interest: The program described in this work was supported in part by a grant from WISELI, the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute. WISELI, a research institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aims to increase the representation, advancement, and satisfaction of groups currently underrepresented at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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