Spring to Action 2020: POSTPONED

Due to concerns related to COVID-19, we decided to postpone our 2020 Spring to Action event, “Advocating for Ourselves and Others: How to Build Inclusive Communities.” We’ve included the incredible program we had lined up in our previous post. Although we are disappointed that we were unable to host the full event as planned, we look forward to having a modified, virtual version of this programming in late summer and fall.

Spring to Action 2020: Advocating for Ourselves and Others – How to Build Inclusive Communities

NE GWiSE’s third annual Spring to Action Summit is coming up this weekend on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at Northeastern University.

Join us for an exciting line-up of speakers, workshops, an expert panel, and networking sessions with advocacy groups in the New England area. Learn how to best advocate for more diverse and inclusive campuses! We’ll have workshops on “Designing Your STEM Experience,” “Transforming Setbacks into Success,” and “Creating Environments and Organizations that Effect Change for Minority & First-generation Students.”

Check out our squad of power speakers in the brochure below. Also, the event is FREE and includes food and refreshments throughout the day. ALL students of ALL genders are welcome to attend. Sign up now at !

Spring to Action 2020: Jessica W. Tsai, co-director of STEM Advocacy Institute, nominated as panelist

Dr. Jessica W. Tsai, co-director of the STEM Advocacy Institute (SAI) was recently nominated to serve as a panelist for Spring to Action 2020.

Dr. Tsai grew up in California and completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and MD and PhD in Neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is currently a 3rd year Pediatrics resident at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center, where she is also completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

STEM Advocacy Institute is a global community of scientists, science communicators, and professionals that is passionate about strengthening the network of access to science education, communication, and engagement.

For more information about SAI, please visit

Join us for an interactive session with Dr. Rati Thanawala at MIT

Dr. Rati Thanawala
Technology Executive and 2018 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow

What are the levers for early career success in tech firms? & How can women prepare while still in graduate school?         

When: Tuesday, December 3rd, 6pm to 8pm
Where: MIT Building 4 Room 149,
Address: 182 Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02142

All NE GWiSE affiliates (Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts) are welcome to attend.

Light dinner will be served. Please join us! Please Register/RSVP at

The New England Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (NE GWiSE) Seminar Series presents this interactive session with Dr. Rati Thanawala, co-sponsored by Graduate Women at MIT (GW@MIT).

Dr. Thanawala will discuss why “early” career success is particularly important for people of “difference” (eg. race + gender, LGBTQ). And, why it is important to prepare for the new situations that are critical in the workplace but which are typically not experienced in college; which (non-technical) skills, if honed, can have a big impact, and what self/mindsets allow new hires to create higher impact.

Dr. Thanawala spent 39 years in tech, the last 17 as VP at Bell Labs. She came to Harvard as a 2018 Advanced Leadership Fellow. Dr. Thanawala has a PhD in Computer Science (Yale) and has worked in many tech domains – R&D, product management, new product introduction, etc. She is now creating a Leadership Academy for Women of Color in Tech, which pilots in Boston in March 2020. The pilot is funded by the Melinda Gates Foundation, and is open to students from the 9 schools that are part of NE GWiSE.


The transition from campus to the workplace is complex, and “potential” is judged very early by managers. This impacts key decisions, such as early assignments. Typically, lead roles on projects that have high importance to the organization and have visibility, are key to establishing a steeper career success trajectory.

Rati has interviewed women of color, who are succeeding in tech, and is using their stories to illustrate career challenges and solutions. Often, women of color experience situations which are not commonly seen by white women, and, almost always, the solutions are creative – they need to work within the norms of the tech culture as well as must counter the commonly held stereotypes of women of ‘difference.’

During the session, Rati will talk about her key insights. She will discuss her Leadership Academy which starts on campus for graduate students through two weekends of instruction, and, follows them to the workplace with quarterly instruction and external coaching by top successful women in tech. This continues until the women are promoted twice and/or selected to be on the high potential track. Then they graduate from the Academy – this could take 5+ years. This approach is designed to advance the creation of cadres of middle level women managers in tech, who, once they have reached a level of power and influence, will sponsor other newly hired women in their firms. This will create a “pull up” momentum, which will accelerate the other complementary efforts of the firm to improve diversity and inclusion.

Retreat 2019 Recap

Empowering Individuals to Foster an Inclusive Campus Climate

On Saturday, August 10th, Tufts University Medford Campus hosted the annual New England GWiSE Summer Retreat on campus inclusivity. Graduate students from over 8 universities across New England heard from leading researchers, practitioners, and advocates about key challenges and solutions in empowering individuals to foster an inclusive campus climate.

To a passionate audience, speakers shared inspirational stories about why diversity and inclusivity matter more than ever. They gave examples of how unspoken rules persist in academia and how implicit bias can be tackled. Graduate students from all walks of life shared their identity struggles on campus and how they fought back against discrimination. It was an opportunity to reconnect with individuals and groups and to remind people of the power of individual and synergistic efforts to foster a better and more inclusive campus climate.

If you missed the event and would like to find out more about it or get in touch with the speakers, please contact us at

NE GWiSE volunteers welcome attendees during registration

Keynote: Rising above the “leaky pipeline’’ metaphor

Professor Banu Subramaniam, professor of Women’s Studies at UMass Amherst as well as an avid researcher of the intersection of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities kicked off the event with a keynote whimsically entitled “Alien becomes exotic: gender, race and the practice of science.” Drawing on her own training as a biologist, Banu set out to engage the audience with the inextricable connections between science and society, nature and culture. Why has science proved so resistant to diversity? How do gender, race, and sexuality shape scientific inquiry? In the Q&A session Banu reminded us all that institutional changes take time and need to happen at many levels. Participants were challenged to revise the well-worn “leaky pipeline” metaphor, discard the “leak-plugging” mindset, and reframe the conversation of diversity from a rigid pipe to a liberating structure.

Professor Banu Subramaniam delivers the keynote address

Lunch and school update

Following the keynote, attendees from different institutions got to meet each other over lunch to connect and socialize. GWiSE representatives gave presentations to introduce ongoing diversity initiatives and future efforts taking place in their school.

Workshops: Promising practices and potential actions

Two sets of workshops provided participants with the opportunity to take a deeper dive into promising practices and potential actions in advancing diversity and inclusion in the campus environment.

Workshop A: Inclusive peer mentorship in academia

Alyssa DiLeo, a graduate student from Tufts University School of Medicine, presented information about a peer mentoring program she designed and is implementing in the Fall at her institution. The Sackler Resources for Easing Friction and Stress, or sREFS, encourages first year graduate students at Tufts to discuss issues with mentors and attend stress-relief events during the year. Mentors are trained in conflict resolution and can also direct students to other resources available on campus. During the workshop, participants were very eager to ask questions about the program including how student confidentiality works and how to increase awareness of the program. The workshop capped off with a mini training on conflict management that participants can use on their own campus.

Alyssa DiLeo leads workshop on inclusive peer mentorship in academia

Workshop B: Reacting effectively to microaggressions

Blessing Lawrence and Najah Walton, graduate students from Tufts University School of Medicine, led a workshop on implicit bias and microaggressions. The workshop focused on the study of involuntary biased behavior resulting from subconscious attitudes and stereotypes. The workshop leaders explained the science behind implicit bias and provided guidance on strategies to combat microaggressions. To help build self-confidence with handling such situations in real life, participants were split into groups for roleplay, acting out roles as aggressor and interrupter. The workshop was concluded with an open discussion to uncover the relevant issues from the presented scenarios.

Blessing Lawrence and Najah Walton lead a workshop on implicit bias and microaggressions

Workshop C: Disability is an identity, not a definition

There are several barriers that a disabled person can experience in academia. These barriers include poor infrastructure design, inaccessibility to lab and field work, and a limited peer network. However, most of us always make assumptions when we try to accommodate the needs of the disabled. Grace Moskola, Director of Accessible Education Office at Harvard, reminded us that while everyone has good intentions, making assumptions about what accessibility means without involving the people who need access can have unintended consequences. During the workshop, participants were encouraged to discuss the implicit messages about students with disabilities and the way that graduate programs impact mental and physical health of all students. To wrap up the workshop, Grace gave a quick pointer on factors involved in the effort to improve disability inclusion, including attitudes and practices, policy considerations, physical access and most importantly, including people with disability.

Grace Moskola leads a workshop on disability inclusion

Workshop D: Confronting implicit bias

Beatriz Cantada, program director at MIT’s Institute Community and Equity Office, led a workshop entitled “Understanding Implicit Bias.” Participants were encouraged to treat the classroom as a “brave space” to confront their implicit biases and prejudices. Workshop activities included giving candid reactions to media images and reflecting on how biases had been demonstrated by the media. Beatriz also shared insight into the “automatic” nature of biases- how they are unconscious, fast and error prone- as well as strategies to recognize and combat biases as we form them.

Beatriz Cantada leads a workshop on implicit bias

Panel: Empowering change in the push for change

After the workshop sessions, three phenomenal panelists shared insights about strategies to create an inclusive campus climate, such as attributes of successful diversity initiatives, the importance of peer groups, and maintaining research excellence. On the panel, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, theoretical physicist at UNH and chair of the National Society of Black Physicists, argued that the key to successful efforts is to have a clear goal. She recommended leaders of future initiatives to form cross-sectional groups to increase their negotiating power, be clear about their demands from the administration, and think thoroughly about the strategy that they would adopt to push for change. Potential solutions to successful initiatives were also presented by Dr. Ritu Raman, engineer and post-doctoral fellow at MIT. She pointed out that personal connections are important to push for a progressive agenda. From the student’s perspective, Ugochi Ugoh, an MPH graduate student from Tuft University School of Medicine, believes that a balance needs to be struck between appealing to the ego of school administrators while not diluting the purpose of the diversity initiative. The collective take-home message provided by these panelists set the tone for future initiatives across all student bodies represented by NE GWiSE.

From left to right: moderators Aleyda Trevino and Najah Walton, and panelists Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Ugochi Ugoh, and Dr. Ritu Raman

Social and the end!

The day concluded on a high note with more socializing and board games. Prices were won and friendships were forged. The 3rd Annual Summer Retreat was a huge success. We hope our attendees left the day feeling better equipped to face the challenges that their career trajectories may hold. As women in STEM, the obstacles we face can be daunting, therefore we must stay united and help each other rise above the biases against us.

Retreat 2019 attendees pose for a group photo with Keynote Speaker Professor Banu Subramaniam

The organizers of the retreat would like to thank all attendees, speakers, sponsors, photographers, and volunteers for their support. Finally, we would like to give a special shout out to Tufts Medford for hosting the event. Stay tuned for the 4th annual Summer Retreat and other motivational events by NE GWiSE.

2019 Summer Retreat Program

The timetable and workshop details of our 2019 summer retreat event is finally out!

Check out our squad of power speakers — from this event you will learn how to address implicit bias, how to be a good peer mentor, how to improve accessibility at the workplace, and many more! There is no reason to skip this fantastic opportunity. Oh and did we mention that the event is FREE ?? Sign up at


Workshop A: Inclusive Peer Mentorship

Graduate students face unique challenges in the lab and in their life. Many schools offer counseling and reporting services, but they are often strained and hard to access. Sackler Resources for Easing Stress & Friction (sREFS) aims to provide a peer resource for graduate students in any sort of need. We have trained each other in conflict resolution, stress management, reporting resources, and mental health management. This workshop will teach you how to be a good peer mentor and resources while introducing the sREFS program.

Workshop B: Implicit Bias and Microaggressions: Identifying and Confronting Them

Each one of us holds biases that impact our day to day lives as well as our interpersonal relationships. While inherently this is not problematic, when our implicit biases turn into microaggressions or when we are on the receiving end of microaggressions, bias becomes behaviorally malignant. In this workshop we explore the foundations of implicit bias, how they influence microaggressions, and how we can address individual and institutional implicit bias.

Workshop C: Disability Inclusion in Academia and STEM

This session will focus on reframing societal norms around disability and examining ways in which access can be created in the college environment. Topics covered include universal design, shifting from the medical model to the social model of disability, accommodations and access barriers in higher education, discovering hidden biases, and ways to promote inclusion in STEM majors. Some small group interaction will be included, and participants are asked to share and think critically about their own experiences.

Workshop D: Understanding Implicit Bias

Are you curious to learn more about implicit bias? Could your department or institution benefit from heightened awareness of the ways implicit bias affects our relationships and decision-making? This one-hour interactive workshop will help participants have an understanding of the implicit biases we all carry and some strategies to manage them.​


It is happening!

new england gwise 2019 summer retreat countdown 8

Sign up link:

Program Schedule:

  • 10:00-10:30am Registration (outside Robinson Hall Room 253)
  • 10:30-11:40am Welcome & Keynote: Dr. Banu Subramaniam (UMass Amherst)
  • 12:00-1:00pm Workshop Session 1: Inclusive peer mentorship in academia (Alyssa DiLeo, Tufts) OR Implicit Bias and microagressions: identifying and confronting them (Blessing Lawrence, Tufts)
  • 1:00-2:00pm Lunch & School Updates
  • 2:05-3:05pm Workshop Session 2: Disability inclusion in academia and STEM (Grace Moskola, Harvard) OR Implicit Bias (Beatriz Cantada, MIT)
  • 3:15-4:15pm Panel on Diversity Initiatives: Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (UNH), Dr. Ritu Raman (MIT), and Ugochi Oguh (Tufts), moderated by Najah Walton (Tufts)
  • 4:15-4:30pm Debrief & Closing Remarks
  • 4:30-5:30pm Social Hour: Games!
  • 5:30pm+: After party (Bar TBD)

Program brochure, maps, speaker bios, and workshops to come! 😉






Register for Summer Retreat 2019!

Registration for our annual Summer Retreat event is finally open!

This year, we hope to bring fresh thinking and approaches to the subject of diversity, inclusivity, and intersectionality.  Our theme, “Empowering Individuals to Foster an Inclusive Campus Climate,” aims to engage the audience on how the campus climate can and will affect each one of us, and that every one of us can make a difference through unilateral and collective action.

All affiliates of all genders are welcome! Light breakfast, lunch, snacks, and coffee will be served throughout the event. Spread the word by sharing out flyer!

The day will include: 

  • Inspiring keynote by Dr. Banu Subramaniam (Professor at UMass Amherst, author of Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity);
  • Workshops on diversity and inclusion;
  • Panel-style Q&A session featuring students and staff who have been a part of successful diversity initiatives at their schools; and
  • Social hour

2019 Summer Retreat- Flyer 3 (1)



Applications are open for 2019/20 NE GWiSE Executive Board and Committee Officer positions!

Interested in advocating for changes in academia that benefit women in STEM? Join NE GWiSE as a Member or Executive for 2019/20!
We are currently accepting applications for our 2019-2020 NE GWiSE Executive Board and Committee. Learn more about Executive roles and the (new!) Committee here.

How to apply:
To apply to the positions listed below, please follow the links provided to complete the appropriate forms.
All applications must be completed by 5/31/2019 at 5:00pm to be considered.
Executive Board Positions
Committee Officer (officers will be contacted to help with events based on your location and the interests you indicate on this form.)

We are also in need of your feedback on this year’s 2018/19 programming to keep improving our events. Fill out this form to let us know your thoughts!

Spring to Action 2019 Recap

On April 6th NE GWiSE hosted our second annual Spring to Action Summit at Harvard University. Each year, the summit is held for local schools to tackle issues present in academia and STEM fields. At the summit, attendees and invited speakers dissect the issues and devise tangible plans to advocate for systemic change within research institutions.

This year the summit focused on mentorship in academia and the sciences. Attendees convened to discuss the needs of mentees and the mentorship resources available on campus and at work. The summit delved into what it means to be an excellent mentor, and how to build strong mentor-mentee relationships. Local universities compared their current mentorship programs, discussed their strengths and weaknesses, and strategized ways to improve them.

NE GWiSE volunteers welcome attendees during registration.

The event kicked off just before noon with a keynote address from Tamara Brown, current Director of Sustainable Development and Community Engagement at Praxair, Inc. and Founder of Tech Savvy, a science conference promoting STEM careers for girls. Tamara is former president AAUW’s Buffalo New York branch, and has been recognized for her outreach efforts being named Champion of Change by the White House in 2011 and a Hero of the 500 by Fortune 500 in 2014.
In her speech Tamara stressed the importance of both sides of the mentoring relationship and by saying “Roads were made for journeys not destinations. Mentorship was made for an acknowledgment that you are not on that road alone.” She advised NE GWiSE that mentees should proactively engage mentors in their success through open conversation; ask what you will need to succeed, ask to be challenged, identify the ways you can benefit from the mentorship you receive. She advised mentors that their roles are admittedly difficult, but that their presence and engagement is more important than striving for perfection. She acknowledged that the predicament of being a good mentor is that they must not dictate the actions of their mentees, only offer support and guidance.

Tamara Brown delivers the Keynote Speech at Spring to Action 2019.

After Tamara’s speech, attendees divided into two groups to participate in workshops led by Dr. Avital Rodal (Associate Professor of Biology, Brandeis University) and Dr. Kylie Huckleberry (postdoc, Northeastern University).

Avi discussed the importance of seeing mentoring relationships from both mentor and mentee perspectives, and how to align the goals of each side. She stressed the benefit of seeking multiple mentors, it not only provides a variety of perspectives, but can be invaluable when conflicts are encountered.

Brandeis Professor Avital Rodal leads a workshop on how to see mentoring relationships from both mentor and mentee perspectives.

Kylie workshopped how to practice effective mentorship. Attendees shared their own experiences with mentors in science and focused on what separates good mentors from bad mentors. The workshop helped attendees identify the qualities and skills required for mentorship excellence, and how they can practice these skills in their future roles as mentors.

Dr. Kylie Huckleberry leads a workshop on practicing effective mentorship.

Over lunch, the results of NE GWiSE’s mentorship survey were discussed. Surprisingly, 100% of graduate women in science voiced the desire for stronger mentorship, and 67% stated a lack of obvious mentorship programs at their schools. NE GWiSE constituent universities presented what mentorship programs and resources are available at their institutions, giving attendees information on what programs to look for and how improve those at their own schools. During the first Breakout Session, attendees discussed actions that could be taken to improve mentorship in academia and STEM fields.

Summit attendees brainstorm what action can be taken to improve mentorship in science.

After the first Breakout Session, panelists Dr. Kıvılcım Kılıç (Research scientist, BU), Dr. Shaun Patel (Neuroscientist and Bioinformatician, HMS and MGH), Dr. Simina Ticau (Senior Scientist at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals), Dr. Caroline Uhler (Associate Professor,MIT) and Mounika Vutukuru (PhD candidate and GWISE President, BU) were invited to share their opinions on mentorship. Kıvılcım encouraged attendees to advocate for themselves and recognize that the list of potential mentors is endless. Caroline shared that she likes to recognize what has been done as opposed to focusing on what that is left to do, and that even as a professor she still has many mentors. Shaun advised prioritizing and committing to being a mentor, make time for your mentees and integrate mentorship into your everyday schedule. Simina highlighted the variety of ways success may be achieved; she encouraged mentees to find their own path, and mentors to motivate and encourage mentees through failures. Mounika emphasized the importance of finding the right mentor; mentees should be able to relate to mentors and see themselves in their position one day.

From left to right panelists: Dr. Kıvılcım Kılıç, Dr. Shaun Patel, Dr. Simina Ticau, Dr. Caroline Uhler and Mounika Vutukuru

Before closing, attendees discussed concrete strategies to improve mentorship for graduate women in science at their own institutions. Armed with action items to change mentorship programs at their schools, attendees enjoyed a final networking social as the summit came to a close.

Spring to Action 2019 attendees pose for a group photo with Keynote Speaker Tamara Brown.

Thank you Meaghan Collins for taking these photographs.