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WiSTAR3 Provides Networking Opportunities for Graduate Women in STEM

Stephanie TerMaathWiSTAR3, which stands for Women in STEM Advancing Research, Readiness, and Retention, was created last year to provide support for graduate-level women in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The group kicks off the fall semester with a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 31, at Schulz Brau Brewery, 126 Bernard Avenue. Interested students are encouraged to attend and discuss possible events for this school year.

Through WiSTAR3, women in graduate programs in STEM fields can network, participate in events, and take part in professional development opportunities at UT.

“Graduate students were missing out on some of the benefits that their undergraduate counterparts were getting when it came to professional development and networking in STEM fields,” said Stephanie TerMaath, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, who serves as the group’s director.

The initial idea came from her participation in a leadership development program at the HERS Institute at Wellesley College in Boston, which was founded 35 years ago to help empower women in higher education.

UT’s group now has 175 members—a sign of both the need for such an organization and the interest level—and draws faculty, researchers, and students from UT’s Tickle College of EngineeringCollege of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate School.

Early meetings focused on topics such as building better relationships with advisors and navigating the Family Medical Leave Act, panel discussions that “played to a packed house,” according to TerMaath.

Other activities have included sessions on classroom civility and on earning and maintaining respect, discussions with women leaders on campus, and social gatherings for group members to share advice and experiences.

“We’ve been able to generate some excitement and momentum in our first year or so, and we’re always looking for new faces and ideas,” said TerMaath.

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