Women in STEM: Myths, Realities, and Improving the Culture

Carol Muller
Executive Director of Stanford WISE Ventures
Stanford University

For the last three decades, many have focused considerable effort to address and understand why women are not as well represented in STEM fields as their proportions in the population would suggest they should be. How have emerging research findings supported or challenged some of our longstanding approaches for advancing inclusive practices in STEM fields? What have we learned that helps to illuminate, clarify, and hone strategies for continued progress toward equity and social justice, along with better and more innovative scientific discovery, engineering practice, mathematical breakthroughs, and technology development? To begin to address these questions, this talk offers a narrative of a personal odyssey of activism, observation, questioning, and learning.

Carol B. Muller, Ph.D., is a university administrator, educator, and social entrepreneur in higher education, experienced in a wide range of responsibilities in academic administration, faculty recruitment and development, strategic planning and budget development, external relations, corporate and foundation relations, admissions, student development, educational program development, and facilities program planning. She is currently Executive Director of WISE Ventures at Stanford University, an initiative sponsored by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, which serves as a catalyst to connect, support, and strengthen all elements of the campus "ecosystem" in support of increasing the success of women and advancing equity in science, engineering, and mathematics fields. Some of Carol’s past work includes service as associate dean for Dartmouth’s School of Engineering, co-founder of Dartmouth’s Women in Science Project, and founder and chief executive of MentorNet, the e-mentoring network for diversity in engineering and science. Her sponsored research and educational projects, disseminated through papers, presentations, and workshops, have been recognized with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring and the Anita Borg Social Impact Award; she is a Fellow of the Association for Women in Science. A graduate of Dartmouth, she earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees in education administration and policy analysis at Stanford. An empty-nesting, bike-commuting, occasional workaholic Palo Alto resident, she takes time out for hiking, cycling, and travel, wine, cooking, and entertaining with her husband, and especially enjoys getting together with their grown children living nearby in San Francisco.

Women in STEM Challenges and Opportunities

Patricia Reiff

Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University.

Professor Patricia H. Reiff is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and was the founding Director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University. Her research focuses on space plasma physics, mostly in the area of magnetospheric physics: "space weather". She was the first person to prove, using Dynamics Explorer dual spacecraft data, that the aurora is caused by a mid-altitude electric field. She is a Co-Investigator for science and E/PO (Education and Public Outreach) on the"Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission" which launched in March 12, 2015. She is instrumental in bringing real-time space weather forecasts and "Space Weather" information to the public. She is the director for a major project which has developed an off-ramp for the information highway by "Creating the Public Connection" , bringing real-time earth and space science data to museums and schools (originally sponsored by NASA's Digital Library Technology Program). She has taught thousands online and in person how to safely view the solar eclipse, and gave away more than 35,000 eclipse glasses to teachers and the public. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union , where she serves on the SPA Public Education Committee. She has served on advisory committees for NASA, NSF, NCAR, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NAS/NRC and AAU.

Women in film industry - Our presence in the art and technology of filmmaking

Carolina Jimenez Garcia

Senior Layout Artist en ScanlineVFX

We'll go through the role of women in the film industry throughout the history of filmmaking, from the first women pioneers in the history of cinema to today's situation in the field around me. I'll go through my career experience since I first started and try to analyze the whats and whys. And we'll try to shed some optimistic light on how to get to a more equal path all in the technical and artistic world of movie making.


Carolina Jimenez is a visual effects artist in the film industry. She started studying architecture in Spain, her home country, but the digital technology of computer graphics rapidly caught her attention and became her preferred career path and profession. She's lived in countries like UK, Australia or New Zealand and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. She's worked in many movies including The Hobbit trilogy, Star Trek Beyond, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or Justice League. Her passion for science popularization and for educating in VFX and filmmaking has made her a blogger, a Youtube teacher and an international speaker for film festivals and educational institutions. A good part of the material she creates is Spanish, her mother tongue. This has made her educational activity of special relevance in Latin America, where educational material is not always available or affordable for young enthusiasts, specially girls and women in need of role models and career mentorship.

Women and Math, widening roads

Moira Chas 

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Stony Brook University

Imagine you grew up in a society where your teachers believed consciously or not that one of the features defining your kind of people is not being good at math. Imagine you had a Barbie who said:  “Math class is tough. Will we ever have enough clothes? I love shopping.” Now expand your vision so you can see daily occurrences of events like those, imagine those events populating your mind since you were born -- slowly, persistently and insidiously. Imagine that the praises to your beauty are many more than those to your mind. Imagine you are rewarded when you are nice, and punished when you are not…

For most of us, it is not hard to imagine such a society, because we grew up in one like that.  

In this talk, I will reason about different ways of how overcome these obstacles and what can we all do to change our mindsets so more of us can enjoy and apply the wonders of math. 

Moira Chas is an associate professor of mathematics at Stony Brook University. Born in Argentina, she discovered early in her life a passion for writing, and a bit later, a passion for math. Mathematics became then a source of literary inspiration until she moved to the U.S. and started living (and dreaming) in English. She works in low dimensional topology, and gravitates to mathematics that can be expressed by pictures. A large part of her research is rooted in finding and probing mathematical conjectures with computers. Many of these computer experiments have been conducted in collaboration with undergraduate, graduate and high school students.

Navigating a Professional Work Environment as a Woman Scientist


Dr. Kathy Prestridge

Extreme Fluid Dynamics Los Alamos National Laboratory

I will discuss the problems that women face in a scientific work environment, and how those can be overcome. The discussion will be interactive with the audience, and questions are welcome during the talk. Studies show us that men and women judge women more harshly when assessing them for hiring, performance, and promotions. How can women navigate this environment and achieve their professional goals? Come find out!

Kathy Prestridge received her B.S. from Princeton University in Aerospace Engineering, and her Ph.D. from U.C. San Diego in Applied Mechanics. She is a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leading the Extreme Fluids Team. Her expertise is in turbulence, mixing, and experimental diagnostics. She is a former Chair of the American Physical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, and she is currently a member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics.

Inspiring More Women Leaders in Technology and Business

Kathryn Guarini 

Vice President of Research Startegy

IBM Research

Diversity in science, technology, and leadership is a business imperative. The data is clear: greater participation by women leads to a stronger workforce, better problem solving, and higher revenue. But the reality today is that most technology companies are still dominated by men, everywhere from the boardroom to entry-level coding teams. This talk will describe some of the challenges of working in a corporate technology company, as well as the many opportunities for leadership and growth. Accelerating change will require programmatic solutions plus greater advocacy and inspirational role models. Let’s work together to build stronger, more inclusive tech teams that are so important for the future of business, society, and the world.

Kathryn Guarini is Vice President for IBM Research Strategy, where she drives technology strategy for the global research community at IBM. Kathryn has held various technical, management, and executive positions in research, development, and business. Kathryn’s innovative technical research in semiconductor device integration and nanotechnology has been recognized with various industry awards. She holds more than 65 U.S. patents and she is a prolific writer with over 60 technical publications. Kathryn received a Ph.D. from Stanford University and a B.S. degree from Yale University, both in applied physics. She is active in mentoring, inspiring, and recruiting scientists and engineers of all ages, especially women.

HeForShe at SBU: Addressing Gender Equality Issues Using Innovative Approaches

Lee Bitsoi 

Chief Diversity Officer

Stony Brook University

HeForShe at SBU:  Addressing Gender Equality Issues Using Innovative Approaches:  

 Created by UN Women in 2014, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, and thus together positively reshaping society. The achievement of gender equality requires an inclusive approach that recognizes the crucial role of men and boys as partners for women’s rights, and as having needs of their own in the formulation of that balance. HeForShe invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners in the crafting and implementation of a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity. Stony Brook was one of the very first universities to host a HeForShe event and start a HeForShe campus organization. Leveraging this existing support for HeForShe, and working with faculty, students and staff across the campus, beginning in Fall 2015, Stony Brook’s commitment to gender equality will be designed into every stage of the campus life experience. Stony Brook will build gender sensitization programming and gender equality themes into its mandatory freshman seminar class, reaching 100 percent of students by the 2019 academic year.

LeManuel Lee Bitsóí (Diné), EdD, is a critical ethnographer and bioethicist who currently serves as Chief Diversity Officer for Stony Brook University, where he leads efforts to institutionalize diversity, equity and inclusion for all campuses of the University.  Prior to Stony Brook, Dr. Bitsóí served in administrative and faculty positions at Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown and most recently, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  In addition, Dr. Bitsóí serves on several national boards and associations, including the National Advisory Council (NAC) for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), the National Research Advisory Council (NRAC) for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Chairs the Native American Affairs Committee for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).