What we do
... and why we do it
WSS began as a student organization at San Diego State University: an organization for women in science, ran by women in science. In it's first year as an official organization, WSS secured a membership of over 150 students, and now has over 200. Clearly, this organization identified and now serves a niche of students and their needs that was not previously being addressed by the university.
Collectively, the events and programs WSS puts on facilitates academic and professional success for women pursuing their degrees in the sciences, while also fostering an environment of motivation and mutual support. The impact that this organization has made on its members is most well represented in the following testimonial taken from one of our founding members, Kiley Silva's, application for a Leadership position, this statement is in response to the question “what does WSS mean to you?” to which she wrote:
“When I first came to San Diego State, I was anything but excited. I was hesitant to leave my home, and all my friends and family. When I moved into my dorm and didn’t get along with my roommates, it only added to my despair. Every weekend, I would ask my mom to drive down and bring me back to my hometown, and as a result I didn’t get involved in the SDSU community. I ended my first year even less excited about the upcoming second. I remember looking at the list of clubs to join on campus a few weeks after the start of my second fall term. “Women in Science Society” came up, but I wasn’t sure if I qualified. I was an athletic training major and was dead set on getting my certification. Was athletic training a science? I decided to give it a shot, I had nothing better to do, and ended up attending the first meeting by myself. I am thankful every day that I did, because after listening to what WSS stood for, I was convinced I had found my niche. I progressively started showing up to more and more WSS events and consequently began meeting more and more amazing women.
It was through WSS that I was able to attend the SCASM conference, where I realized I wanted to study biology instead of athletic training. It was at the WSS faculty-student networking event that I realized I wanted to get involved in research, and subsequently bothered one of the participants, Dr. Maluf, until she made a position for me in her lab. It was in my BIOL 204 class, which I only enrolled in because of the recent major switch, that I realized I wanted to specifically study ecology.
Now, although all these academic and professional revelations have greatly impacted my life, it’s the support system I’ve found among my fellow WSS members that has given me the confidence to pursue these new opportunities. My second year may not be over yet, but I can guarantee that it’s already better than my first, and I can only imagine how my third and fourth years will be filled with similar growth and support because of this organization. No longer do I want to go back home all the time, because to me, WSS has helped me find a new one.”
There are so many women like Kiley, who are not going to experience a transformation like she did because they are not being given the support or being exposed to the opportunities needed to do so. Our chapters are working to combat this by facilitating our events, programs, and sisterhood at universities across the country to promote, educate, and motivate the thousands of women who currently feel isolated, underrepresented, and hopeless in their pursuit of a degree in the sciences.