WiSTEM LA: A Celebration of Los Angeles Women in STEM Fields

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Professor Heather Maynard helps launch the Los Angeles mayor’s office WiSTEM LA initiative, which provides opportunities for women in STEM fields.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the WiSTEM mentorship and networking initiative to ensure that young women in Los Angeles are equitably included in local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-driven industries by connecting them with female mentors in these fields – areas where women are often underrepresented.

Professor Heather Maynard participated in a morning panel discussion titled “Women in Healthcare Innovation and Delivery”. Over 600 people attended the event held on September 15, 2018 at the Los Angeles Museum of Arts Bing Theater.

Maynard Wistem 2018

Maynard is the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Professor in Polymer Science at UCLA, Director of the Chemistry Biology Interface Training Program, and Associate Director of Technology and Development for the California NanoSystems Institute. Her many awards include the 2018 ACS Cope C. Scholar Award, UCLA’s Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, the 2017 Fulbright Specialist Award for New Zealand, and the Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching. Maynard is an ACS POLY, ACS PMSE, Leverhulme, Kavli Frontiers, and Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, and was a member of the 2016-17 U.S. Defense Science Study Group.

“While women suffer from lost opportunity, the technology industry suffers from lost ingenuity,” said Mayor Garcetti. “WiSTEM is designed to close the gender gap in one of our City’s fastest growing industries. Because in Los Angeles, we cannot stay stuck in the past in fields that are meant to shape our future.”

According to the press release for the event, the Initiative will consist of three primary programs in its pilot year:

• College-to-professional mentorship matchmaking, which will pair 150 community college, university, and graduate school students majoring in STEM disciplines with women in a variety of STEM-driven industries;

• Professional networking events for women across STEM industries, featuring conversations with Ladies Get Paid on achieving pay equity, and increasing female representation on boards and positions of leadership. The first WiSTEM L.A. networking event will be held in February 2019 at WiSTEM partner Cross Campus in Downtown L.A.

• Site tours at STEM-focused nonprofits, so that young women get firsthand experience at some of LA’s most exciting companies.  

In partnership with Ladies Get Paid, a New York-based group that fights for equal pay and treatment of women in the workplace, and L.A.-based company Introdeck, WiSTEM L.A. connects girls with women across STEM specialties and professions to create a community that encourages interest in STEM among younger women, and persistence in STEM for college students and professionals.  

“Finding out that 60% of today’s college graduates are women, yet less than 22% make it past middle management, shocked me into starting Ladies Get Paid,” said Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid. “Given how systemic and entrenched workplace inequity is, many of us feel helpless that as individuals, we can’t affect change. We can and we will. We’re so excited to partner WiSTEM L.A. Initiative to help women recognize their value so they can best advocate for themselves at every level throughout their careers.”

Matchmaking for the WiSTEM L.A. mentorship program is facilitated by Introdeck, a web-based platform powered by IBM Watson. Formal matching will begin in October, with mentorship beginning in November. Mentors and mentees will be paired for one year, and commit to monthly check-in’s by phone or video conference, and quarterly in-person meetings.  

To learn more about WiSTEM L.A. programming and events, visit the official website.