Category Archives: WISEblog

The WISEblog category is for communications relating to general topics of interest or concern to WISE members. Campus and community issues of concern can also be posted here, like work-life balance, childcare, and career-path discussion.

Please join WISE for a luncheon on Wednesday, November 1 to connect with colleagues. The topic is “How did I get WISE?”  We’ll share lessons learned from experience as a faculty member, graduate student advisor, or a STEM researcher, at Michigan Tech or elsewhere.
Date and time: November 1, 2017, Wednesday, 11:45am-1:15pm.
Location: Alumni Lounge B

We hope the new school year is off to a great start for all of you. For our new colleagues, WISE stands for Women in Science and Engineering. It is an informal networking and support group of faculty and staff working in science or engineering fields. Here is more on who we are and what we do:

  • We are a grass roots group that focuses on the issues around under-representation of women in STEM fields (examples include recruitment, retention, and working toward success in predominantly male fields).
  • We frequently have sessions that include all women faculty working together on the issues coming from being a woman (examples include implicit bias, workplace bias, and growth mindset).
  • We have luncheons or coffee&tea hours during the semester and discuss issues that will help us with our professional and personal lives. Common topics include research, tenure, promotion, teaching, service, work-life-balance, and getting support during tough times.
A common question that is asked by both male and female colleagues is “We all know that there are no intrinsic differences between men and women. Why should women get special treatment?” The answer is that women’s groups are not about getting favors for women but rather preventing fair and equitable practices from being taken away from women. We feel that everyone can identify with this mindset and warmly welcome you to our group.
We have a couple items where we need your help:
  • Our e-mail list needs to be updated. Please ask female colleagues in your unit if they have received this message. Let us ( know if they want to be included in the list.
  • We are seeking topics that are of interest to you. Please bring or e-mail your suggestions and preferences.

The WISE co-directors are Dana Johnson, Norma Veurink, and Nilufer Onder. We are looking forward to seeing you next week.

WISE co-directors

Michigan Tech Pre-School

From their website:

Michigan Tech Preschool is a non-profit, cooperative preschool serving children ages 3-5. It is a fully-licensed preschool, and the teachers meet all state certification requirements for early-childhood educators. Michigan Tech Preschool is open to all interested families. Non-English speaking children are welcome.

Conversation-Community-Collegiality, C3 University Lunches Scheduled

See also Tech Today, 9Feb2015
“We thought it would be nice to provide an opportunity for relaxed interaction across campus,” says Faith Morrison, member of the Steering Committee for the C-Cubed (Conversation-Community-Collegiality University Lunches) group. Norma Veurink adds “In our teaching and support roles with students, we always seem to be in discharge mode. We need a venue to recharge with colleagues.” Nilufer Onder contacted Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, who, it turns out, was already working with a pair of University Senators on a related idea. It all came together for Thursdays and Fridays this semester.

“It,” that came together is the C-Cubed University Lunches set to start February 12 and 13 in MUB B001 (ground floor; former billiards room). Faculty, staff, and their guests are invited to buy lunch (buffet will be offered) or bring their lunch to room MUB-B001 on Thursdays and Fridays and to share conversation and lunchtime with colleagues. “We’re providing the invitation, table cloths, a cash buffet, and Theresa has arranged for the university provide a few perks (complimentary coffee, tea, cookies, and fruit),” says Morrison. “All the attendees need to bring is conversation, community, and collegiality (C3)!”

The committee hopes that the seed planted through these twice-weekly C-Cubed lunches will develop into an ongoing congenial setting for informal gatherings. For now, the lunches will be offered on Thursdays and Fridays through the end of the spring semester. The price of the buffet lunch will be $10 and the menu will vary. Brown-baggers are welcome, as are those who wish to purchase lunch from the MUB Commons or the Khana Khazana on Fridays. The lunch event is from 11:30-1:30 both days. All faculty and staff and their guests are welcome.

Contact any member of the steering committee if you have questions or suggestions.
C-Cubed Steering Committee:

  • Tess Ahlborn (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Sherry Anderson (College of Engineering)
  • Jennifer Biekkola (Annual Giving)
  • Theresa Coleman-Kaiser (Assistant Vice President for Administration)
  • Stefaan De Winter (Mathematical Sciences)
  • Sarah Green (Chemistry)
  • Audrey Mayer (School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and Social Sciences)
  • Faith Morrison (Chemical Engineering)
  • Nilufer Onder (Computer Science)
  • Norma Veurink (Engineering Fundamentals)
  • Adam Wellstead (Social Sciences)


New WorkLife Programming Advisory Committee Formed

The Michigan Tech V. P. for Administration Ellen Horsch has formed a new committee, the WorkLife Programming Advisory Committee.   According to their website, the committee came into existence at the end of 2014.  The WorkLife Programming Advisory Committee is charged with:

  • Regularly assessing WorkLife quality at the University.
  • Reviewing and providing input on University policy to support WorkLife blending.
  • Benchmarking other institutions’ WorkLife programs.
  • Providing programming and resources to the campus community that support a high quality of WorkLife blending for all.

Persons interested in participating in the Committee’s work are invited to get in touch with the Committee chair, Ann Kitalong-Will, who can be reached at Subcommittees are being formed on the following topics (per blogposting 29Jan2015):

  1. Childcare and eldercare issues and concerns
  2. Policies that support a good work-life blend for University employees
  3. Mentoring opportunities
  4. IT service, software, and technology infrastructure needs that support worklife quality and flexible work options
  5. Professional and career development needs and interests

There is also a survey link posted on their blog, inviting community members to express their priorities with regard to work-life issues.

The committees, task forces, and groups formed by the V.P. for Administration’s office “research, analyze, and recommend ways to improve administrative operations at Michigan Tech to help enable a pleasant, productive, and safe work environment.”  These groups (as of 8Feb2015) are:

  1. Benefits Liaison Group
  2. Health and Safety Task Force
  3. Incident Command Team
  4. Memorial Union Vision Purpose Group
  5. The Tech Community Wellness Committee
  6. Reengineering Personnel Management Systems Task Force
  7. WorkLife Programming Task Force



Tips and Best Practices from the Michigan Tech Diversity Literacy Online Workshop

Thank you to Michigan Tech’s Patricia Sotirin and Sonia Goltz for permssion to post this list from the 2014 Diversity Literacy Online Workshop

Diversity Literacy Workshop:  Best Practices

Unintentional Bias

  1. Recognize the influence of stress and time pressures on decision‐making processes. If possible, schedule selection and advancement processes with an eye to minimizing semester and professional demands on committee members and provide a generous window of time for committees to deliberate.
  2. Establish decision criteria related to position requirements and professional qualifications before reviewing candidate applications.
  3. Encourage selection and advancement committees to seek additional information in order to clarify ambiguous priorities, criteria, and information. At the same time, be careful to apply the same criteria and requirements for all candidates.
  4. Identify and focus on specific position criteria rather than discussing a broader and more general sense of “fit” with the department.

Selection Bias

  1. Avoid evaluations based on inferences that may mask subtle biases. In particular, do not make offer decisions based on what the committee assumes or suspects about the candidate’s motives, preferences, or likely actions.
  2. Clarify whether gendered assumptions about roles or positions are evident and strive to compare candidates on the basis of actual accomplishments and qualifications. This is particularly important in assessing leadership and professional potential.
  3. Use a structured interview schedule for each candidate interview. If additional questions are asked of a particular candidate, these should be noted so that the committee can decide how or whether the additional information is useful and comparable to information available for other candidates.
  4. Word position announcements using gender neutral language and identify both mainstream and population‐specific venues for placing the announcement in order to ensure a pool with at least 25% minority and female candidates.
  5. Question vague, evaluative comments made by committee members to find out what specific issues or concerns underlie such comments. Vague feelings and suspicions, anecdotal information, and interpretations based on perceptions should be explored so that these comments can either be substantiated or reconsidered.

Advancement Bias

  1. Set up specific standards for advancement progress and assess all faculty periodically for advancement potential based on non‐subjective criteria (number of courses taught, cumulative teaching scores, number of publications, grant levels, etc.).
  2. Be vigilant about identifying and minimizing unconscious bias in advancement decision‐making processes. Provide P&T committees with time and information and encourage members to avoid distractions and focus on predetermined advancement‐relevant criteria.
  3. Assess the subtle accumulation of disadvantages across all faculty periodically. Pay attention to systematic differences among groups of faculty such as salary, space, research resources, teaching assignments, awards, and committee assignments.

From the NY Times: Women at work subject to more, and harsher, criticism

From the New York Times, September 27, 2014:

A NEW study by the linguist and tech entrepreneur Kieran Snyder, done for, found two differences between workplace performance reviews given to men and women. Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

For the whole article, see the New York Times website.

Volunteers Needed for Get WISE Event

The Center for Pre-College Outreach is looking for about 25 female volunteers to help out at “Get WISE,” an event seeking to raise women’s interest in science and engineering.  Although not sponsored by the Michigan Tech Women in Science and Engineering group (the source of this blog), it is a worthy event that we endorse! The event will be held on Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers or anyone looking for more information can email