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Jumpstarting STEM Careers Symposium supports women, minority students

Students listen to three presentations by experts in communications.
January 24, 2013

Being an effective communicator does not come naturally to everyone, especially when speaking about topics such as science or math, or, when negotiating with your boss for a higher salary. To help students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), the Central Arizona Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS-CAZ) presented a half-day symposium aimed particularly at women and minorities, on how to become stronger and more effective communicators.

Dozens of Arizona State University students and faculty members attended Jumpstarting STEM Careers, a Jan. 11 workshop that focused on communications, networking and negotiating. The event was sponsored in part by ASU’s School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Our annual workshop helps women and minorities establish their careers in STEM by providing effective training. They will be better prepared to apply for a tenure track position, as well as be successful in their early years,” said AWIS-CAZ president Page Baluch. Baluch is a researcher and the manager of the W. M. Keck Bioimaging Facility in School of Life Sciences.

Three communications experts shared informative and inspiring presentations during the symposium. Speakers included Steve Neuberg, an ASU Foundation professor of psychology; local Fox 10 news anchor Kari Lake; and Jess Alberts, a President’s Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Communication. Presentations focused on professional communication, networking, negotiating skills and how to communicate science to the media.

“We’re providing critical information on how to improve communication with peers, colleagues and the general public,” added Baluch. “One of the take-home messages was to prepare for negotiations by doing your homework first and by communicating in a way that will best demonstrate your level of knowledge and confidence.”

Tara Crawford, a School of Life Sciences graduate student studying foraging behavior in sea lions, attended the symposium for the first time.

“It was very helpful to learn about how to negotiate, and why it’s important to hone this ability early in your career,” said Crawford. “Also, learning how to encourage your colleagues and superiors to cooperate with you to do things that are mutually beneficial is a useful skill. The symposium was very worthwhile.”

In addition to the annual Jumpstarting STEM Careers event, AWIS-CAZ hosts monthly career-building seminars centered on topics such as elevator speeches, funding, and careers outside academia. The group also hosts a seminar each fall for undergraduates interested in STEM internships. AWIS-CAZ encourages any student majoring in STEM fields to join the organization.

Two upcoming seminars called “New Strategies in Scientific Poster Design” and “Branding Yourself” will be held in February and March.

AWIS-CAZ presented the symposium in conjunction with ASU Women in Science, and the Forward to Professorship workshop teams at George Washington, Gallaudet and Ottawa Universities. Jumpstarting STEM Careers is funded by a National Science Foundation ADVANCE/PAID grant.

To learn more about ASU’s Jumpstarting STEM Careers, visit To read about the Forward to Professorship workshop series, visit For information about AWIS-CAZ, visit