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Building a Community of Women in STEM at UMBC:
WISE in an informal network of women in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at UMBC that meets monthly to provide a community of exchange and support. WISE was established as a vibrant grass roots organization at UMBC during the Fall of 2000 and was instrumental in obtaining the NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant in 2003. WISE is an independent organization that works collaboratively with the ADVANCE Program, the Faculty Development Center, and most recently, the Center for Women & Technology in establishing a powerful community of support and mentoring in STEM at UMBC.


  1. To build a network of information, support and encouragement for women faculty and students in STEM disciplines.
  2. To work with the Faculty Development Center, ADVANCE Program and Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) to provide mentoring and development opportunities to advance the careers of junior and senior faculty women in STEM.
  3. To promote and support the involvement of women in research activities in STEM at UMBC and beyond.
  4. To serve as a forum for the discussion of important issues and the development of policy relevant to women faculty and students in STEM.
  5. To advocate on behalf of women with regard to issues of concern to women in STEM at all levels of the institution.
  6. To assist departments and the administration in successful recruitment and retention of women faculty in STEM at UMBC.
  7. To organize educational awareness activities through programming that highlights accomplished women in science and engineering and current research on gender equity issues in STEM.

Structure and Resources: 
WISE was designed as a peer community without a hierarchical structure. The chair (or co-chairs) organizes monthly meetings, but programming is determined through community consensus. Members of the WISE community volunteer to lead individual projects or organize specific events. The Office of the Provost provided $3000 a year for WISE activities from 2000-2003. Since 2003, the WISE group has worked collaboratively with the ADVANCE Program, the Faculty Development Center and STEM departments to support programming and speakers. In order to ensure sustainability, the Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) will house and provide basic infrastructure support for the WISE group after the final year of NSF funding for ADVANCE in 2009. WISE will continue to operate as an independent grassroots organization.