The first of a series of films documenting the role of women in science and engineering at UW-Madison will premiere today at 2 p.m. in Union South.
The film, which follows the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute's first year at UW-Madison, touches on issues central to women with high-level appointments in scientific fields and the campus-wide efforts to enrich the working climate for these women.
\Our initiative is aimed at faculty issues,"" said Jennifer Sheridan, sociologist and research director at WISELI. ""We want to make academia an attractive option for women scientists.""
Since early 2002, UW-Madison administrators and women faculty comprising WISELI have worked to identify and respond to gaps in campus policy that may deter women scientists from entering into faculty-level positions. The five-year project is funded by a $3.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
Susan Harris, a masters student in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, said she has benefited from working with faculty who are prominent in her field.
""I think that the climate is inclusive and encouraging; however, the majority of faculty in my field are male and the lack of women professors is noticeable,"" Harris said.
WISELI has teamed up with faculty from many departments along with the office of the provost to perform research, the results of which will identify ways to improve the campus workplace for women scientists and for other faculty and students.
""UW-Madison is a living lab,"" Sheridan said. ""We're being conscious to not make this gender-specific... [and] we include students wherever we can.""
Through interviews with campus administrators and faculty, the 35-minute film will show how having children, feeling isolated and facing unconscious biases can impede a woman's academic advancement, Sheridan said.
Yevgenya Grinblat, an assistant professor of anatomy and zoology, divides her time between work and home. As a mother of two with a third on the way, Grinblat said that finding time for all of her responsibilities is a challenge.
""In my experience, [lack of time] is very much a gender-specific issue,"" Grinblat said. ""Women in positions equivalent to mine are much more likely to mention lack of time as the biggest problem they face on a daily basis then do men.""
The film will provide a snapshot of the campus climate when WISELI first began its work and will focus on the organization's high hopes for the future. It is free and open to the public.