Over 400 women and men gathered in the Hub at UW Seattle on February 27th to connect and discuss the lives of women in science and engineering fields. Attendees ranged from pre-college students and guests to professionals and experienced educators. The day began with a breakfast panel before we headed off to two workshops of our choice. Workshops included study skills such as time management, collaborative techniques such as coaching and social media, and gender-specific application workshops for diversity and equality. Throughout the panels and workshops, there were many repeated themes that I feel should be broadcast to all young scientists.

The first is that even as a student, we are role models who need to emphasize diversity in all fields and aspects of life. Diversity is much more than a check-box on a questionnaire. The strongest diversity is that of thought and experience, and it is our job and responsibility to make sure we are always encouraging that! After all, many (if not most) great scientific advances would not happen without thinking outside of the box and collaborating with those who think differently than us.

Secondly, it is important to know that “imposter syndrome” is a real phenomena, and that it is all too common for women to feel it at some point or many points in their lives. For those who do not know, imposter syndrome is a term that was first used in 1978 to describe the feeling of not feeling like you deserve your accomplishments or that you are successful because of your efforts. The term “imposter” refers to the idea that you will be found out and caught as a cheater or a fake. This may seem like a harsh feeling, but it is all too commonly seen. I encourage reading this article for more information and coping mechanisms.

On a final note, it is most important to realize that every person follows their own path to greatness. If your path is a spiraling roller coaster, that’s okay! A linear path does not equal success. What truly counts is your achievements along the way and the friends and memories you make through your journey!

The UW WISE conference is a true gem of an event and is a great way for anyone to expand their network and empower everyone in the STEM fields. The next conference will be on February 18, 2017.

Representing UW’s Women in Marine Science: Celebrating UW’s 25th Annual WISE Conference