Professor attends summit to advance women’s leadership
in the sciences
July 1, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
snorkeling) recently participated in the inaugural “Advancement
of Senior Women Scientists at Liberal Arts Colleges” Summit.
Centre College professor of chemistry Dr. Jennifer Muzyka recently joined 50 fellow senior female science professors in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever summit meeting dedicated to the “Advancement of Senior Women Scientists at Liberal Arts Colleges.” The meeting was organized by the co-principal investigators of a project funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation and Dissemination (PAID) program.
For two days, Muzyka and other female science professors discussed both the unique environments of undergraduate liberal arts institutions and the challenges female science professors face to attain leadership roles and professional recognition.
Representatives from professional organizations that advocate faculty development and women’s leadership and gender equity also attended the summit. A few of these organizations include Women in Science, the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee and the Council on Undergraduate Research.
“The summit meeting was designed to accomplish several key objectives,” says principal investigator Professor Kerry Karukstis, professor of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College. “The importance of professional development at all career stages was a central theme.”
Karukstis also says that “raising awareness of the underrepresentation of senior women faculty in almost all science fields at liberal arts colleges was also emphasized.”
“Given the importance of faculty governance at liberal arts colleges,” she adds, “it is essential for women at the senior rank to participate in leadership roles. The varied career experiences and achievements of this incredible cohort of women faculty provided a rich resource to generate recommendations that will enhance the careers of other women faculty.”
Muzyka says the most valuable lesson she learned at the summit was the “importance of mentoring, and that mentoring shouldn’t be reserved only for people in the early parts of their careers.”
She also says that she enjoyed meeting the other women “with whom I have so much in common. I believe I would benefit from participating in a mentoring alliance, and I hope to figure out a way to do that using what I learned at the meeting.”
Muzyka, who has taught chemistry at Centre since 1994, received her B.S. from the University of Dallas and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.