Midwest Women Chemist Retreat

Midwest Women Chemist Retreat is a 3-day event geared towards graduate students and post-doctoral associates with the goal of retaining and advancing women in their chemistry careers. This event gathers women at different stages of their careers to discuss the challenges women face in the workplace and strategies to overcome them. The retreat is traditionally held in an informal setting, allowing for easy and open discussions. In 2017, seven graduate students from the department attended the first ever Midwest Women Chemists Retreat. The retreat brought together 40 graduate students and post-docs from schools in the Midwest region and 12 speakers/mentors to Newton, IA from August 4th – 6th.

2017 MWCR      2017 MWCR UMN 

During the retreat, there were two workshops, panel discussions (with experts from academia/industrial/government + non-traditional paths in chemistry), keynote address, poster sessions, movie and even time for campfires! The workshops were held by Dr. Lisa Balbes (Essential Career Skills for Chemists) and Dr. Amber Manning-Ouellette (Finding and Sustaining Your Voice). As a participant, I soon found that this was no run-of-the-mill career panel we get often on campus. The rustic environment, small group setting and 3 days 2 nights duration allowed for deeper interactions. Most of the invited speakers and panelists stayed there with the attendees for the whole event. I especially enjoyed speaking to the different mentors, as they had much to share from their experiences On top of that, I had genuine conversations with the other attendees, who were fellow chemists and my peers, going through similar stages in their careers.

Keynote address  Academic panel  MWCR poster

All in all, I was glad I attended the retreat and I believe many of us did too. In fact, several of the graduate women were inspired and volunteered to serve as the planning committee for the 2018 retreat. We hope to encourage more women from our department to join the Midwest Women Chemists Retreat at some point in their graduate career. The deadline for registration for the 2018 retreat is June 15th (https://sites.google.com/view/mwcr). Feel free to contact us if you would like more information. Written by Xin Yi See (May 2018)

MWCR Workshop        MWCR campfire