Association of Women in Science holds open house

Josh Hartman / Sun Star

The Association for Women in Science – Alaska Chapter (AWIS-AK) held an open house on Friday, Nov. 13 In the International Arctic Research Center. The organization is looking for new members, according to Elena Sparrow, the current president and a founding member of AWIS-AK.

The attendees to the Association of Women in Science – Alaska Chapter open house had a nametag placed on their back with an animal on it and they were tasked with talking to their neighbors to find out what the animal was. The open house was led by Elena Sparrow, the current president of the organization. - Josh Hartman / Sun Star

The attendees to the Association of Women in Science – Alaska Chapter open house had a nametag placed on their back with an animal on it and they were tasked with talking to their neighbors to find out what the animal was. The open house was led by Elena Sparrow, the current president of the organization. – Josh Hartman / Sun Star

“I’m interested in science and encouraging everyone, especially women, to be able to participate fully in science, engineering and math,” Sparrow said.

If people want to join AWIS-AK they would go to the awis.org website to join the national organization, which will then alert Sparrow. Once notified, she would contact the applicant, according to Sparrow.

“Founded in 1971, the Association for Women in Science is the largest multi-disciplinary organization for women in science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics,” according to the AWIS website.

There is also a $65 fee to join the national organization for students, post-doctorate and medical residents. Additionally there is a $5 fee that is paid to the local organization.

Members of AWIS can gain connections in the field, leadership training and can engage with the public through advocacy, according to the national webpage.

The AWIS-AK used to meet every month, however they have not had regular meetings recently. They are having a meeting in the first week of December or January according to Sparrow.

The meeting will be announced in the university calendar of events.

The open house started with refreshments for the attendees and introductions for all of the people present. The first speaker was Sparrow. She discussed what the organization represents and what they do in the community.

Sparrow also brought up the pay gap between men and women and the lack of representation of women in the fields of science, engineering and mathematics.

“We are still lagging in pay compared to men,” Sparrow said.

The AWIS-AK is also staffed by Mary Ann Borchert, the vice president and founding president, and Shari George, the treasurer.

“We are working to have women in the picture whether it’s engineering, science or math,” Sparrow said.

AWIS-AK does seminars showing their research. They also do presentations on topics relevant to women such as health issues like osteoporosis, according to Sparrow.

Every year, the AWIS-AK takes a panel of women scientists and works to recognize young girls at regional science fairs around Alaska. The panel chooses an outstanding project for every grade level. The girls whose projects are chosen then receive a certificate of achievement as well as a monetary reward from AWIS-AK.

Every three years the AWIS-AK partners with a girl scout troop and they hold sessions that feature different types of sciences. The junior girl scouts can earn a badge in science for attending these sessions, according to Sparrow.

“I would hope for younger women scientists or women interested in science to be actively involved so we can be more active in the community, depending on what they want to do,” Sparrow said.

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