Established in August 1994, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program's mission is to expand and improve educational and professional opportunities for women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by facilitating individual, institutional, and social change. The idea developed in October 1992 when twenty-five University of Iowa (UI) participants attended the Women in Science and EngineeringConference at Indiana University sponsored by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). To create a formal WISE program at the UI was the first on a list of recommended initiatives put forward by a group of UI faculty, staff, and students who recognized the need for a more structured approach to increasing the number of women in STEM fields.
In 1995, WISE initiated a peer-mentoring program to increase participation and support for women with STEM majors. The program established a mentee-mentor relationship between first year and upper level students for over 200 undergraduates with the same STEM major. To strengthen the students' studies, WISE Learning Communities began in the 1996-1997 school year as the first academic learning community on campus; it provides residential based community-building programs and academic and social support for undergraduate women with STEM concentrations. Both the peer mentoring program and the learning communities provided academic and social support to, on average, two-thirds of all incoming first year women in the College of Engineering. In addition, WISE students participated in the Learning Community Outreach Program that connected them with their home schools by acting as role models to younger women in grades K-12. In 2001, WISE started the Graduate Student Mentoring Program to increase relationships among undergraduates and graduate students continuing their studies or working in the fields of science and technology.
The University of Iowa Women in Science and Engineering Program records date from 1992 to 2010 and measure ญญ5.5 linear feet. The records are arranged in eight series: History; Administrative files; Grants and Funding; Mentoring Program; Publicity; Scholarships; Undergraduate and Graduate Programs and Research; and Workshops, Conferences and Events, and Photographs. Penciled notes in brackets on the folders were written by the WISE staff prior to transferring the records to the Iowa Women's Archives.
The History series (1993-2006) contains correspondence between program coordinators and directors, budget analyses, and files concerning learning community housing and program goals. Also included are three folders that document Iowa's first female graduates, faculty, student assistants, and other female firsts at the University of Iowa. Folders removed from a binder include reports and publications from the program. 'History' was the title given to those folders by the WISE staff.
The Administrative series (1995-2010) includes advisory board minutes, annual reports, strategic plans, and materials concerning faculty program development files, a Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) directory and site visit report, and lists of WISE program participants from 1995-2010. The advisory board correspondence and meeting agendas and the CIC reports comprise the bulk of this series.
The Grants/Funding series (1995-2008) includes a proposal for the National Science Foundation, General Mills proposal for the first peer mentoring program, materials concerning the International Women in Science and Engineering (I-WISE) mini grants, UI Foundation correspondence from 1998-2008, Student to Student Support in Science (SSSS) files (1998-2005). The bulk of the series transferred from large binders to folders.
The Mentoring Program series (1994-2005) is comprised of documents relating to both the Graduate Mentoring Program and Student-to-Student Support in Science (SSSS) Peer Mentoring Program. The Graduate Mentoring Program paired undergraduate students with students in graduate or doctoral programs and the series includes materials on the program's development and pilot year (1999-2002), graduate mentoring participant lists (2002), WISE peer mentor/mentee lists, program evaluations, photos, recommendation files, and the bulk of the collection are mid-year and final reports (1996-2005).
The Publicity series (1995-2010) documents the press releases (2001-2004) and media coverage, including newspaper clippings from Iowa City Press-Citizen and Daily Iowan, WISE newsletters (1995-2010), Learning Community pamphlets, and program promotional material. This series includes the newspaper clippings and photos of Iowa native Peggy Whitson's mission to space in March 2007. The photos include the piece of homemade paper that WISE students signed with messages that Whitson brought along on the mission.
The Scholarship series (1996-2010) series houses records from the variety of national and regional scholarships, which include travel grants and fellowships awarded to WISE students.
The Student Research series (1996-2008) traces the academic research and programs by WISE. In 2001, the Graduate Programs Climate Study started by WISE and the Graduate College surveyed students to identify strengths and weaknesses in UI graduate education. The seven sections of the survey asked about issues regarding the matriculation of graduate students, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other variables that impact support within their degree-granting programs. The WISE Visual/Spatial Study assessed the relative skill levels of first-year males and females involved in tasks of mental rotation, considered a strong indicator of success in STEM programs. In addition, the series includes papers on Service Learning, where students serve as role models to young women, I-WISE correspondence, Women in Nature (WIN), and other service programs geared to bridging women in STEM programs and young girls' interest in science.
The Workshops/Conferences series (1992-2010) contains materials from happenings WISE hosted or attended. The series holds the papers for the CIC conference from 1992, where the idea for WISE developed. The bulk of the series includes papers and posters for events sponsored by WISE, such as Women's Health Conference, Women in Research Day, Strategies for Success Workshops, and Take Your Daughter to Work Day, among others.