WMU partners to host film, panel discussion on reducing gender bias in STEM fields

Contact: Kathleen Refior
Chemist Raychelle Burks in a laboratory.

Chemist Raychelle Burks is one of three women scientists featured in the documentary film "Picture a Scientist."

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Gender bias and a lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are the topics of a virtual film and panel discussion sponsored by Western Michigan University and other higher education partners advocating for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive STEM workforce.

WMU—in collaboration with Iowa State University, Michigan Technological University and North Dakota State University—is hosting a screening of the film "Picture a Scientist" followed by a panel discussion at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1. Learn more about the event and RSVP.

Picture a Scientist film cover with three women working in labs

The four host universities have come together through the ADVANCE Midwest Partnership-Joining Forces program. Funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, the program provides grants to study systemic factors that create gender inequities in academic professions and workplaces, and to develop and implement strategies to mitigate these factors.

"Picture a Scientist" is a feature-length documentary film chronicling a groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences as scientists, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. The film also highlights new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable and welcoming to all.

Scheduled to premiere at the now-postponed 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, "Picture a Scientist" paints a subtle, emotional but unflinching portrait of the struggles women in science face. The film challenges audiences of all backgrounds and genders to question their own implicit biases and move forward with change strategies.

This event is the first in a yearlong, Cross-Institutional Caucus Series hosted by the four institutions engaged in the ADVANCE Midwest Partnership-Joining Forces grant. The series, taking place in 2020-21, will highlight gender inequities in STEM workplaces and suggest institutional strategies to counter these inequities.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.