Mayaguez – A group of students from the Mayagüez Campus (RUM), the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), founded the first organization in the country that brings together women who study the discipline of Physics, it transpired on Friday.
With the name of Women in Physics Puerto Rico (WiP-PR), this group is dedicated to the empowerment of women who are preparing academically and working in this branch of science.
In addition, it aims to set a precedent to open the way for other women interested in entering the field, and thus increase diversity and gender inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM, for its acronym in English).
As explained by its founder and president, Tamara González Acevedo, the entity officially began at the beginning of this year, after the American Physics Society (APS) awarded them a grant of $ 1,000 to carry out their feat.
“This idea came about around October 2019, when we realized the very small number of women within our Physics Department, an aspect that we see reflected in other fields of STEM. The opportunity arose to request the help and we decided to write a proposal, to tell them that we wanted to form the first group of women in Physics in Puerto Rico, focused on supporting those interested in all aspects of their student career, whether professional, emotional or staff, and increase the percentage of our participation in discipline. Fortunately, we obtained the grant in January 2020 and, since then, we have started with the events, activities and the recruitment of our members ”, explained the student from the RUM’s baccalaureate in Theoretical Physics in written communication.
The group had the support of doctors Rafael Ramos, director of the Physics Department, and Nohely Miranda Colón, group advisor and, currently, the only female professor in that academic unit.
Through proactive and radical proposals, the organization seeks to integrate more with the students and help them closely with the objective of increasing their retention and graduation levels.
They also provide young role models to inspire them.
“Having, even if she is a teacher within the department, is a living example that more women can reach that level, which is not only a position for men. When you see a person like you occupying that role, someone you can compare yourself to, who has a similar story to yours, you get not only a goal to aspire to and the motivation to achieve it, but also confirmation that it is possible and of that is within your reach ”, said the president.
WiP-PR has remained active, despite everything that has happened since the beginning of the year with the pandemic.
It has offered several professional development workshops to its members, and they have even organized virtual activities that promote the care of the psychological and physical aspects of the students.
The president of the UPR, Dr. Jorge Haddock, highlighted the importance of this new organization for academia, science and for society.
“As the main teaching and research center in Puerto Rico, we are proud of the initiative of Tamara and her work team, which promotes the maximum development of women in an area as competitive as Physics. We extend congratulations to her, as well as her mentors, including Professor Miranda Colón, for their leadership in promoting equity and the inclusion of women in science and research. The work that is developed from student organizations makes valuable contributions to the development of students and communities, ”said Haddock.
For his part, the Rector of the RUM, Dr. Agustín Rullán Toro, congratulated the entrepreneurial students for the management that emphasizes the brilliant work of women in scientific fields at the university level and in their professional careers around the world.
“It fills us with pride that this timely and relevant entity that brings together our representatives in the discipline of Physics was launched from our Campus. It is necessary to look for platforms like these that promote opportunities for equity and representation in all fields of knowledge, not only because of the outstanding students who honor us in our institution, but to forge the new generations of girls and young people who also aspire to be scientists . Congratulations on this inspiring feat ”, he pointed out.
The organization has not limited itself to recruiting students at the RUM, it has also organized outreach events, through which it seeks to take its message to other UPR campuses, and encourage the creation of local chapters in them. More information, in their networks such as: Women in Physics Puerto Rico on Facebook; @WomenInPhysPR on Twitter and @ wip.pr on Instagram.