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Jayhawks Breaking Barriers (JBB) win award for raising awareness about gender and diversity gap in STEMM

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Jayhawks Breaking Barriers (JBB) Awarded for Efforts to Raise Awareness About Gender and Diversity Gap in STEMM



Jayhawks Breaking Barriers (JBB) a grassroots program created and organized by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from KU STEMM Departments (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Biosciences, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, etc.), will be honored with an award for their work to raise awareness about the gender and diversity gap in STEMM at the Sustainability Leadership Award Presentation on Friday, April 19th. JBB launched in Spring 2017 (made possible by funding from the American Association of University Women) with the goal of drawing attention to and implementing programming to alleviate the gender leadership gap (underrepresentation and underpayment of women in leadership positions compared to men) in STEMM at the University of Kansas.

The form of the program has currently shifted from an application-based, volunteer program to a formal course offered in Undergraduate Biology as well as two Graduate Programs, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Biosciences. Despite this shift, the mission of the group continues to be to increase awareness about the gender and diversity gap in STEMM and to provide the skills, confidence, and networks necessary to allow all STEMM students to reach their professional career goals. JBB hopes to expand to other STEMM departments in 2020.

The 2-credit-hour, Professional Development in STEM (BIOL 420) course provides students with a toolbox for a wide variety of academic and non-academic STEM-related careers in a diverse society. It includes practical professional development training, interactive workshop sessions, invited speakers, and a project in which students explore different career paths (such as teaching, policy, law, communication, research and business). Students leave with an established professional network in the broader community, polished professional documents, a developed career-focused presence on social media, tangible products that can be included in a portfolio, and awareness of diversity-related issues needed to be effective leaders. Graduate students who enroll in the 1-credit-hour course (BIOL 801) also learn the professional skills and develop polished documents while getting guided mentorship experience. Graduate students serve as mentors to the undergraduates enrolled in the course in preparing their documents, communicating professionally, and building their team projects.

JBB has been comprised of the following leadership team over the course of its existence; Haifa Alhadyian, Emily Arsenault*, Katie Becklin, Camila Campos, Kaila Colyott*, Oindrila De*, Sofia de la O, Alex Erwin, James Fischer*, Aleah Henderson*, Kaylee Herzog*, Meagan Kurland*, Rachel Lietz, Cindy Ly, Karen Olson*, Bjorn Peters, Kelci Schilly, Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz*, Bailey Spickler*, Jessica Torres, and Lynn Villafuerte. *current leadership team


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