Greater Baltimore’s Association for Women in Science Looks to Future, Seeks New Board Members

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a global not-for-profit organization that inspires and drives solutions that create systemic change for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. AWIS’ mission is to inspire bold leadership and research-driven strategies that spark innovation and promote organizational success while advancing gender equity in STEM fields.

“At AWIS, we work to ensure women can achieve their full potential as scientists, problem solvers, and innovators. Joining the AWIS network allows diverse scientists and people to support each other as they access professional development resources, create community, and support scholarships and advocacy programs,” stated Meredith Gibson, AWIS’ National Chapter’s Interim CEO.

Being part of AWIS is an opportunity to make real change happen for women and other underrepresented groups in the sciences while enhancing and developing new skills, expanding one’s network, staying informed, and adding a true ally that can support one’s personal and professional journey in STEM. 

AWIS’ Greater Baltimore, Maryland Chapter is looking to build upon its already strong membership and programming by adding new executive board members interested in having an impact and leading the chapter into the future. The deadline to complete the executive board application form is May 18, 2022. You can review the application and apply by clicking here.

Alexandra Soare – Current AWIS Baltimore President

Alexandra Soare is AWIS Greater Baltimore’s President; she has been a member since her early years as a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMD). For her and other members, joining AWIS provided an opportunity to meet new people and spark needed change.

“I wanted to connect with other local women in STEM. AWIS Baltimore provided me the opportunity for me to expand my professional circles while volunteering for social issues that I am passionate about… I found a group of women who wanted to make STEM more accessible for all historically excluded demographics, not just women,” stated Soare.

“For me, that has been one of the greatest things about joining AWIS Baltimore. I didn’t want to join an organization that focused solely on women in STEM but ignored other forms of discrimination. Since I have been a part of the AWIS Baltimore, the executive board has shared this hope for making science more inclusive,” she added.

Soare is now part of the AWIS Greater Baltimore executive board that currently has a few openings. The 2022-23 executive board election is approaching and Soare and the other executive board members are looking for women and other gender minorities from all fields, and settings (government, industry, science policy, etc.) and career stages.

For five decades, AWIS has been at the forefront of championing women in the sciences. More recently AWIS has expanded its focus to assisting other groups that have been historically marginalized or excluded from STEM careers. 

Since its inception in 1971, the organization has made a major impact on gender equity and diversity issues in the sciences, serving as a galvanizing force and trusted advisor to Congress, the United Nations, the biopharma industry, government and academic institutions and professional organizations. 

AWIS National has approximately 5,000 members—which include students, early career, and experienced professional members—across 30 grassroots chapters, all of which are supported by the national organization, its partners, resources, network and infrastructure. AWIS offers its chapters and members a powerful national and global platform that harnesses research-backed advocacy, innovation, and practice.

Zuha Imtiyaz, Ph.D., AWIS Baltimore Vice President of Communications

For Dr. Zuha Imtiyaz, AWIS Greater Baltimore’s VP of Communications and a postdoc research fellow at UMB, expanding her network in the Baltimore area was the first membership benefit she enjoyed since she was new to the area at the time. However, the more she became involved, the more deeply she felt a sense of community and the impact she and her AWIS members could have.

“AWIS is a force that brings women in STEM together. I have connected with so many brilliant women through AWIS. You get to know about other people’s journey and it’s inspiring. I have learned so much…about knowing your professional worth and how to transition to the jobs you deserve,” she shared. 

“AWIS has many hardworking and brilliant women associated with it, and once a person joins AWIS, they are connected to this huge network which is only going to be beneficial for them. If you are a student, researcher or an accomplished professional, AWIS is an amazing organization to join. You will get to learn a lot, or you can share your professional journey and help others grow,” Imtiyaz added. 

Dr. Donna Vogel, a co-founding member of the Baltimore chapter, is the former Director of the Professional Development Office at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and has been an AWIS member since around the early 2000s; she was originally a member of the AWIS Bethesda chapter. She joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1980 and brings a valuable perspective about how organizations like AWIS have advanced gender and equity over time. She remains active with the Baltimore chapter by running a handful of their professional development workshops.

“Back in the day, there was no such thing as career anything…no mentoring, no exploration, no diverse careers in science…AWIS provided a window into other sorts of careers in science. I saw that there were many ways to succeed as a scientist,” stated Vogel.

For Vogel, women should join AWIS because “…Isolation is paralyzing. We all need a community. We need to know we are not alone. Whatever adversity we need to deal with. Maybe it’s a toxic workplace, bad mentoring, barriers to advancement, imposter phenomenon, or any other aspects of racism, sexism, ageism, and ableism we have to face. AWIS is a non-judgmental community where we can find like-minded leaders and peers who have faced the same issues and can offer support, tools and techniques, and ways to help us work through.”

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Whether it’s AWIS events, the “What’s Next” webinar series, AWIS Magazine, scholarship opportunities, local chapter resources or just connecting with other like-minded women in STEM, AWIS is a valuable organization for women in STEM at all levels regardless of STEM field.

Becoming an executive board member for AWIS Greater Baltimore not only delivers the benefits of membership, it also is an opportunity to lead and to have a hand in shaping the future impact and advocacy of the Greater Baltimore Chapter.

Eposi Elonge, AWIS Baltimore Vice President of Social Media

Eposi Elonge, AWIS Baltimore’s VP of Social Media/Executive Board Member and a Senior Research Project Coordinator at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, shared, “Volunteering to be on the AWIS Baltimore executive board gave me the opportunity to share opportunities on a large platform through our social media accounts. I was able to connect with women who were outside of the Baltimore area, get exposure to STEM fields outside of my own, and learn about educational opportunities. I’d encourage anyone who was considering to volunteer as a member of the executive board to go for it, it’s a valuable experience.”

For AWIS Greater Baltimore President Soare, volunteering for the executive board is all about connection and meaningful impact.

“As a member of the AWIS Baltimore Executive Board, individuals have the chance to gain leadership skills while supporting and connecting with local women in STEM. In 2021-2022, AWIS Baltimore has hosted several events to support Baltimore women in STEM such as our networking social and professional development workshop. Those events were possible because of our incredible executive board,” she stated.

“Additionally, members of the executive board get to interact and connect with other incredible women not just in Baltimore but other cities as well. This is incredibly helpful for early career scientists and graduate students who may be looking for a career change in the near future. The Baltimore Chapter has close ties with the AWIS Philadelphia and AWIS DC chapter and we have worked together to plan events and support each other in our endeavors,” Soare added.

To learn more about AWIS Greater Baltimore Chapter membership and executive board opportunities, email [email protected] or apply for the executive board online by clicking here

The deadline for the executive board form is May 18, 2022. Membership is rolling and can be secured at any time.