More Than a Woman…in Science

June 5, 2021

Blog post written by The Wisest Women Marketing Director Intern, Alma Hernandez. 

Two best friends who are on a mission to reach equity in STEM and education. The Wisest Women was created to bring awareness to the barriers women face and encourage more women to pursue STEM. 

Women are still being seen as not having the potential to have the same ability and roles as men specifically in male-dominated fields such as in STEM. 

To bring community equality, two esteemed professors from the University of St.Thomas had the idea to create a program that brought awareness to the clear gender gap in a more relevant way. The Wisest Women was created by Dr. Richa Chandra, an assistant professor and research chair of chemistry and Dr. Amber Miller, a STEM success director and research manager. 

As educators and scientists, they’re constantly thinking about their crafts and how to improve and make an impact. Therefore when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were ready to provide change in a time where people were feeling least connected. 

WISEcast was then born. 

WISEcast addresses these issues by encountering real conversations of challenges women face in STEM, provide opportunities, and present stories from successful women in STEM. 

Alma Hernandez: What does a powerful woman mean to you? 

Dr. Richa Chandra: “When I think powerful, it means that you’ve empowered somebody else. I think that it’s not like I’m some super woman and I get to have all these awards. They mean nothing, if I haven’t had the impact that I want to make for younger women. I’m hoping that every person by having interactions with me whether it’s in teaching or in this organization, has an opportunity to grow themselves. That’s when I feel powerful.” 

Dr. Amber Miller: “A powerful woman is someone who can use all of the things around them to come up with the best solutions for problems. You automatically assume they have power, but they utilize all of the resources they have at their disposal to do the most good that they can do. That’s the kind of the power that we all have, the ability to make an impact in the most cohesive and inclusive way possible.” 

AH: How do you mix professor and podcast life?

RC: “I’m very strict about scheduling. I set aside certain times where I work on The Wisest Women stuff. There are other times that I keep protected for my professional goals as a professor. I try to keep the worlds separate. When I’m in mom mode, I’m in mom mode, I’m not in professor mode, I’m not a podcast host, we just learn to compartmentalize” 

AM: “ Finding the will to use the science, the equilibrium between it all. It’s just the pivot and the ability to prioritize and use your momentum to do things. I’ve learned a lot about how it’s not about trying to change ourselves to be this person that we think we should be or to work in this specific way that we think effective people work. It’s a process when you’re trying to build new habits and develop different skills.” 

AH:What impact do you want to make? 

RC: “Like we say close the gender gap. There are unfair policies, but there’s also a lot of work to be done with women as well such as advocating for ourselves and to grow ourselves in the mindset of knowing we have that value. I hope that the women that are listening to the podcast whether they’re undergraduate or early career professionals, when they hear something, they’re forced to think about it.” 

AM: “ Leaving this legacy. That people know that we made a difference. That we tried to kind of push the boundaries, and help people to find their passions and pursue them. We’re all weird, quirky, individual people and we all have different skill sets and abilities to do things amazingly. We need to figure out how to tap into those and do the most productive thing we can with that to change the world.” 

AH: Any advice for young women wanting to pursue STEM? 

RC: “Do your research, and know what each field involves. Then have more conversations with people who have arrived in those professional areas because there’s so much you can do. I would advise professional STEM aspirants to investigate before you get into it. Even if you do get into it, and you don’t love it, don’t be afraid to change course. One of the many advantages we have as women is that we live longer.” 

AM: “You have to have enough confidence to know your worth and value to understand that if it’s something you love, do it. You’re going to be so much happier for doing it. There are hard blocks along the way. We have to make sure that across the board, we’re open minded to help everybody be successful.” 

The Wisest Women plans to keep enhancing their mission through social media awareness and discussion.

“The Wisest Women have welcomed men into their audience, something I believe is unique among feminist organizations. They have made their podcast more than social justice, they exemplify what they are teaching,” WISEcast intern Liliana Hildebrand states when describing her experience at The Wisest Women. 

Even with many years in the making, women still have a difficult time pursuing equality among different fields. WISEcast addresses the perspectives of people specifically women who are going through this in order to bring light to these situations. Dr. Chandra and Dr. Miller use their backgrounds to engage rising STEMinistas and create a more inclusive environment. The Wisest Women showcase a variety of topics that touch on imposter syndrome, different career lifestyles, and the rawness of what it means to be a woman in STEM. 

Most of all, they exhibit that women can do everything. 

And women deserve to be seen as more than just women.

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