Glass ceilings, cliffs & slippers; celebrating women in research
Glass ceilings, cliffs & slippers; celebrating women in research
WiE Newsletter - August 2020 - ISSUE 10
Dr. Rachelle Heller

Front and Center 

News from the Director

While July is usually the most quiet, relaxed month in the academic calendar, we're proud to celebrate the extraordinary research and technological accomplishments of several women in engineering in the section below. The topic of women publishing their research and, in fact, taking credit for their work is one that WiE is particularly focused on. We've included guidance on this topic on the WiE website, where numerous resources are available.
The GW achievers highlighted below are excellent examples of women leading change in academia, those breaking the "glass ceiling." A glass ceiling is a metaphor for the barrier that women face in moving up beyond a certain level in any hierarchiacal structure - such as becoming a college president, or moving from middle- to boardroom-level management. Glass ceilings and glass walls exist anywhere where individuals who are on a similar professional level are not paid or treated equally to their male counterparts. Many tenured women faculty still experience professional marginalization such as lower salaries and fewer resources for their research than male colleagues, as well as exclusion from important decision-making roles in their departments. More about this phenomenon in the What we are Reading section below!
August brings a renewed sense of action, yet given these strange times, our typical August is just not so typical. We understand that many students need more support right now, as they navigate the current challenges. That is one reason we began the WiE Mentoring Program early, and our Beta version is now fully underway. Nine mentor/mentee pairs who began their mentoring relationship in early July have been introduced to one another, and in mid-August we will get their first ‘read’ on how the system is working. Our plan is to expand the number of mentoring pairs for the Fall term. Click here to express your interest in either mentoring or being mentored. 
For those seeking mentorship tools and guidance, we hosted a webinar and you can access a recording of that session here. You'll need the Access Password to view it: 9m$EO*91
August also brings the GW Gen-Cyber Middle School Girls Cybersecurity Day Camp, which I will be hosting along with a team of dedicated instructors. This is the fifth year that GW has been awarded a grant by the National Security Agency to host the camp - and the first that it will be held completely online. Stay tuned on how it went!
Remember to stay physically distant and socially connected, and wash your hands.

Shelly Heller
WiE Center Director

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Dr. Mona Zaghloul (ECE)

Developing a COVID-19 Detection Smartphone App

WiE Advisory Board Member Dr. Mona Zaghloul (ECE), and Dr. Jeanne Jordan (Milken Institute School of Public Health) have won a six-month, $50,000 COVID-19 Technology Maturation Award from GW’s Office of Technology Commercialization (TCO). Drs. Zaghloul and Jordan will work to develop a smartphone app to detect SARS-CoV-2. GW TCO works with industry partners to license and commercialize technology solutions to improve and save lives.

Machine Learning Project to Increase Efficiency in Thermoelectric Devices

Dr. Saniya LeBlanc (MAE) has teamed with Drs. Ji Ma and Prasanna Balachandran (University of Virginia) to conduct the project “Single-step additive manufacturing of thermoelectric devices guided by machine learning and high throughput characterization.” Awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office, the $500,000 ($250,000 GW share), two-year project will use machine learning accelerated design of laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing to attain thermoelectric devices with 40 percent increased efficiency and 20 percent cost reduction.

Upcoming Event

"Lead Like a Woman"

August 13, 2020
Check out this event, sponsored by the Women in Data Science; DC chapter.
The link to join is here.

AI Project to Convert Implicit Associations to Explicit Knowledge

We recently highlighted research conducted by Dr. Aylin Caliskan (CS) and graduate teaching assistant Akshat Pandey on the algorithms being used by Uber and Lyft resulting in charging riders more for trips to non-white neighborhoods.
Dr. Caliskan is again in the news this month! DARPA Habitus Program has awarded her a 42-month, $330,000 grant to generate self-sustaining artificial intelligence models in low-resource languages that can automatically convert implicit collective associations and information to explicit knowledge. This grant was awarded as part of a large project with her collaborators from Raytheon BBN and Tufts University.

Title IX Webinar

Now that classes and other academic programs are being conducted online, the Title IX office reminds members of our community that maintaining an academic program free from sex/gender discrimination remains a high priority for the university. 
A webinar presentation was recently hosted by Vice Provost Caroline Laguerre-Brown on the new Title IX regulations. Title IX is a U.S. federal civil rights law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Co-authored and introduced by U.S. Senator Birch Bayh and U.S. Congresswoman Patsy Mink, it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act following Mink's death in 2002. 
The important focus for WiE is this: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Title IX was signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1972. 
Regulations pertaining to the law have been updated and GW prepared the required materials to comply with the new regulations. 
Election 2020 Ensure Data Security and Privacy Rights of Individuals

Report: Privacy and Security in Upcoming Elections

With the 2020 election coming up, many are focused on the security and privacy of individuals.
This timely report and action plan was developed by a National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) group led by Dr. Costis Toregas, director of the GW Cyber Security and Privacy Research Institute (CSPRI). WiE and CSPRI share office space in Tompkins Hall and the two organizations collaborate on a number of initiatives. Congratulations to Dr. Toregas and the  committee on the release of this important document.
image of newspaper
Women Leading Change in Academia - book cover

What We Are Reading

(and listening to)

Since I am still getting most of my exercise during long walks, I am listening to podcasts such as The Last Archive by Jill Lapore, professor of history at Harvard University and a contributor to the New Yorker Magazine. There are now 10 completed episodes for this season. I highly recommend the series, and I invite you to recommend others for us to post. It seems we'll all be consuming our reading in various ways for months to come as a result of COVID-19.
"Women leading change in academia: Breaking the glass ceiling, cliff and slipper," edited by Callie Rennison and Amy Bonomi - A MUST READ!
As mentioned in my opening above, many women experience the glass ceiling phenomenon. According to a March 1999 article in The MIT Faculty Newsletter, a study on the status of women faculty in the School of Science highlighted the small number of women faculty (15 tenured women vs. 197 tenured men in 1994) and the fact that, contrary to popular belief, the percentage of women faculty had remained unchanged for at least 10, and probably 20 years. 
A glass cliff (a 2005 term) happens when women are called in to lead at a time of crisis or a downturn, when the situation may be beyond saving. It is a precarious position. When the failure occurs, reports suggest that the woman was just not up to the task, rather than that the task was long-ago undone. 
A glass slipper, a term first coined by Karen Lee Ashcroft of the University of Colorado, Boulder, captures occupational identity by association. The metaphor elucidates how occupations come to appear "naturally" possessed of features that fit certain people, yet are improbable for others. 
The book is an important compendium of reflections and research on the issues of women's leadership in academia, but many of the chapters are meaningful for all social and economic environments. 
One chapter on mentoring, authored by Dr. Mariko Silver, president and CEO of the Henry Luce Foundation and former president of Bennington College, notes that a mentor network needs to start as early as high school. She notes "complete self-starters are unicorns." As Bill Withers sang, "We all need somebody." Even those who have already achieved great success benefit from mentoring and networking. Dr. Silver offers an anecdote about Janet Napolitano and her offer to come to DC to work for the Obama administration. As meaningful as the offer itself was the support from a mentor to "be willing to put yourself at the center of things when the appropriate opportunity arises."
Happy reading and listening!

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