The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Chapter at the University of Toronto was established in 1999 and has since continued to expand both its team and network. WISE aims to advocate for women to be given the opportunity to obtain education in STEM related fields, and also facilitates women in the development of their skills, confidence, and involvement in research and technology through various mentorship programs and events. WISE works to create a supportive community of women and men through five initiatives: Industry Mentorship, Community Outreach, Professional Development, High School Outreach, and annual conference.
Our team organizes various high school outreach events including mentorship programs which enable high school students to gain exposure to STEM related fields. The team also offers an Industry Mentorship Program to assist university students in creating connections and receiving guidance from professionals in their fields of interest. We believe that giving back to the community is as important as providing opportunities for students, which is why we organize various community outreach events and partner with women’s shelters to support women in STEM across all walks of life. Our annual conference and annual International Women’s Day Gala both serve to inspire individuals to pursue careers in STEM. The WISE team’s passionate dedication to make a difference makes it a unique organization that not only advocates advancement in STEM but also actively creates opportunities and presents students and community members with new avenues to do so.
The current President of WISE is Jenny Wang. Here are her thoughts on this year’s conference: “As a woman in STEM, I am proud to have contributed to this worthwhile cause. Our team is bringing together students from all over the world, connecting them with like-minded peers and industry leaders. Women are truly represented when we include perspectives from different ethnic and gender identities. That is why I’m proud of our commitment to diversity in this year’s conference. My team and I have strived to create an innovative and impactful experience. We hope to inspire the next generation through stories of female success and I am grateful to be a part of the WISE community in making this conference a reality.”
The conference aligns with the team’s mission as it brings students and professionals together from across the world over a weekend in January where attendees have the opportunity to network and collaborate with professionals. The conference is both inspiring and informative; it highlights the success of women in STEM related fields and allows attendees to compete in case competitions, discuss new avenues for research and technological development, and widen their networking circle. The conference underscores the importance of supporting women in STEM as it showcases their achievements and communicates that women should be given equal opportunities and acknowledgement for their accomplishments.
As with conferences from previous years, the 2019 conference will highlight several inspiring stories from our featured speakers, including those of Dr. Shawna Pandya, a physician, speaker, and citizen-scientist astronaut candidate, and Dr. Kitty Yeung, who completed her PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard University and currently combines her interests in art and science via tech-fashion design. As mentioned above, attendees can also look forward to learning about new research and entrepreneurial work during panel discussions, networking with industry professionals and companies at the Career Fair, and building their technical skills via workshops and case competitions. “We are excited about this year’s new healthcare consulting case competition,” says Jenny. “In addition to our annual engineering design event, students can now collaborate towards solving present-day issues in healthcare.”
Victoria Cheng, the Conference Chair for 2019, has this to say about the event: “It’s important to bring together women and allies from different backgrounds and experiences so that we can bond over common interests and share perspectives and stories. This sharing and collaboration is essential for defining the challenges that we face and for generating the best solutions. Every person participating in the discussion can then implement the solutions in their environment, whether that is at work, home, or school. These actions will improve the microcosm of their schools and workplaces, creating changes that will hopefully propagate throughout the entire industry as a whole.”
Her favourite part of the conference is the competitions: “They’re always collaborative, interesting, and fun (and the $1000 prize isn’t too bad either). I also love panel talks and workshops because I always learn so much from participating in them! Every workshop is unique and different, and I always come out with new knowledge, perspectives, and skills.”
While WISE continues to advocate for equal representation and acknowledgement for women in STEM, a significant amount of progress remains to be made. Women will only reach equality when each woman across the globe is provided with the opportunity to access education and choose her own path. It is of utmost importance that we support women in pursuing their passion in the fields they choose; society will make great strides if all its members are given the resources and opportunities to make contributions! We hope that you will join us for our conference to stand up for the women who have beaten the odds and paved a path in STEM related fields!
More information about the conference can be found at: conference.wiseuoft.org