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By Leah Poffenberger
For the past decade, APS has organized the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), positively impacting hundreds of students across the country each year. Now, with the help of a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation, APS is launching the Advancing Graduate Leadership (AGL) initiative aimed at positioning graduate and postdoc women and other individuals who do not identify as male in leadership positions in physics and astrophysics.
AGL hopes to expand networking, strengthen retention, and provide opportunities for future research and other collaborations for women throughout the physics community; provide mentor training and professional development; and support women in seeking leadership roles at their own institutions and in the broader community, where they train others and are recognized for their efforts.
Three primary AGL activities will be funded with the grant of over $375,000: APS is hosting eight virtual workshops on developing professional skills, two virtual research mentor training workshops in partnership with the Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), and a two-day in-person conference held in conjunction with the March Meeting.
“The main goal of AGL is to help women and people who don’t identify as male get into positions of leadership and to provide guidance for the people who are already in them,” says Farah Dawood, Chapters Program Manager at APS.
The professional skills development workshops are set to run from December 2021 to mid-summer 2022, with the first workshop set for December 9 featuring Kristen Burson (Hamilton College). “These virtual workshops will be open internationally—not just for people in the United States,” says Dawood. “Our hope is that we can reach as many people as possible from all over the world.”
The CIMER workshops will also be held virtually, but for smaller groups: the idea is to train 24 individuals per workshop who can serve in leadership positions at other AGL events, such as the AGL conference. The conference will be held from March 12 to 13, and will be hosted by Argonne National Laboratory.
“By holding the AGL conference the weekend before March Meeting, graduate women will have an opportunity to build valuable professional skills and put them into practice at the nation’s largest physics conference,” says Dawood.
The Heising-Simons Foundation selected APS for this grant opportunity in part due to successes in previous initiatives to promote women in physics, including CUWiP.
“The Heising-Simons Foundation has set out to provide support to graduate women and they felt APS was the perfect partner in this endeavor,” says Dawood. “We’re really hoping to be successful in supporting women to achieve leadership roles and thrive.”
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Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine