Despite the growing importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), only 24% of the workforce in these fields includes women, a concerning situation according to several researchers, including Texas A&M University professor Mary Bryk.
The associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics was elected as a 2014-15 ELATE at Drexel Fellow and has decided to advocate and raise awareness about the role of women in STEM fields.
STEM is essential for the global leadership of the United States, and even though women earn on average 33% more when working in STEM fields versus other professions, their representation is still considerably low. As such, Dr. Bryk has decided to leverage her own expertise and experience to join the cause. Her nomination as a 2014-15 ELATE at Drexel Fellow is an elite, one-of-a-kind professional development program designed for female researchers working in the academic STEM fields.
The distinction allows Bryk to be part of classroom lessons and activities, online instruction and debates, as well as on-the-job student training at Texas A&M. In addition, the fellowship includes the development of an Institutional Action Project, to be completed in partnership with the Texas A&M Provost Karen Watson, as announced by Texas A&M in a press release.
“We are extremely excited to launch a new year of the ELATE program with this extraordinary group of women,” stated the executive director of Drexel’s International Center for Executive Leadership in Academics and ELATE fellowship director, Diane Magrane. “The deans and provosts that have committed to mentoring these women through this intensive year-long process recognize the importance of developing diverse leaders within their institutions. This bodes well for the future of academic STEM leadership.”
This is not the first time that Bryk is elected to be an ELATE. “After serving on several university committees, I realized that I enjoy working with our administrators, and I believe it is very important for faculty to have a voice in university decisions,” Dr. Bryk explained. She is also the chair of the Texas A&M Council of Principal Investigators, and in 2009 and 2012 served as a representative of the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The scientist has been in Texas A&M’s department of biochemistry and biophysics since 2002, when she started directing a research lab and a team of students and trainees dedicated to studying the complex structures of eukaryotic chromosomes, and their role in the regulation of gene expression and genetic material integration. In addition, Dr. Bryk has been supported by a program from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
The researcher was also granted the ADVANCE Administrative Faculty Fellowship from the Texas A&M University ADVANCE Center, which is funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2012. The award enabled her to conduct a part-time appointment in the provost’s office, contributing to the reaccreditation of the school with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
In addition, Dr. Bryk also participated in the development and implementation of the assessment plan for the Texas A&M University Quality Enhancement Plan, Aggies Commit, and she noted the time she was able to work with Provost Karen Watson and Vice Provost Pamela Matthews. “The leadership skills possessed by these women, commitment, integrity, ability to communicate effectively, ability to delegate, and sense of humor, inspired me to step out of my comfort zone to make a contribution to the university,” she stated.
Despite the fact that scientific research is still her main focus, Dr. Bryk added that, “from my experiences as an Administrative Faculty Fellow. I have learned that the work and the sense of accomplishment associated with university service fulfill me much more than I ever imagined they would.”