WiSP Pilot Program Matches Women Science Students with Alumnae Mentors

This summer, Women in Science Project (WiSP) has been conducting a pilot project to pair Illinois Tech women undergraduate and graduate students with Illinois Tech alumnae who work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. To date, 10 students and 10 mentors have had the opportunity to connect via text, email, Skype, or in person to talk about professional paths, education, and more.

“Most participating students have learned more about their potential career field through their mentorship,” said WiSP co-founder and co-president Grace Wischmeyer (CHEM and BIOL 4th year/M.S. Candidate CHEM 1st year). “After this successful pilot, we plan to continue the mentoring project in the fall.”

“It’s nice to see the possibilities of what you can do with your major,” said co-president Nour Issa (BIOL 4th year), a pre-dental student. “It’s also nice to see how careers can be integrated with everyday life, which is something commonly skipped over in the career industry – especially for women.”

Aliza Miller (CS 4th year) was paired with Myra De Torro (CS ’92, MS ’95), IT project manager, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Miller said, “We have been communicating on a daily to weekly basis, and she is working on getting me permission to shadow some of her business meetings! I have definitely received useful information about different career paths, continued education, and more. It is a great initiative and I hope that it continues.”

WiSP, which became an official student group in April, advocates and provides opportunities for women science students and all students. Women earn half of the bachelor’s degrees in science, but they continue to face significant challenges in their careers. For example, a report earlier this year from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said half of women in science experience harassment. Further, the harassment is not just a nuisance; it takes a toll on female researchers economically and financially and stifles their scientific contributions, the report concluded.

Interested students can contact WiSP at gwischme@hawk.iit.edu.