Supporting Women in STEM

April 23, 2018

For Women’s History Month in March, Sigma Xi spotlighted its support for women in science, technology, engineering, and math. Three members shared the advice, lessons, and people that helped them build their careers.

Sudharshana Apte

Sudharshana Apte

Research scientist at Altria Client Services; president-elect of the Forum for Women in Operations Research and Management Services

On mentors: I have a broad set of individuals (both men and women) as my mentors: my professors, colleagues (both peers and superiors), and people in my field that I have met at conferences. By not limiting myself to one mentor, I have been able to get diverse perspectives to address any questions or concerns that I may have.

The advice that made a difference: Stay authentic and courageous. Do not underestimate the power of networking when you are looking to build your career: Be deliberate and strategic. 

Jennifer Patterson

Jennifer Patterson

Chief scientific officer of the biomedical start-up BIOFABICS

On mentors: Many mentors have been important to me, including my graduate and postdoctoral advisors who have always been responsive when I reached out to them for career advice or for a reference letter. 

The advice that made a difference: Be resilient. Careers in research are tough. Experiments often don’t work, leading to unexpected results or requiring additional troubleshooting. The career path can be daunting, with many positions and research funding being highly competitive. Learning how to move forward from setbacks and staying positive are essential.

Maria Cruz-Torres

Maria Cruz-Torres

Senior sustainability scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University

On mentors: Mentoring has been key to my academic career because I am the first one in my family to attend college and earn a PhD. I have had two very important mentors: a professor who taught me how to conduct research and encouraged me to pursue graduate studies, and my doctoral advisor. Both people taught me how to be persistent, to never give up, and not let anyone else define me. 

The advice that made a difference: Be passionate about what you do even if others do not understand what you are doing or why.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety