Women in Science

A First-Year Ampersand Program

Explore Science, Medicine, and Technology

Are you interested in a career in STEM? Whether you think you want to be a physician, a university chemistry professor, a researcher in the medical field, or a scientist working in industry, the Women in Science (WIS) program will allow you to explore a variety of options in the sciences and learn about the role of women in science, both past and present. In addition to meeting women scientists from the Danforth Campus and Medical School who will come and speak about their scientific research and careers, you will have the opportunity to shadow and interview women scientists to learn firsthand about the joys, successes, and frustrations of these accomplished scientists.
You will also get to spend your first year with a cohort that shares your interest in science, medicine, and technology. Each cohort develops into a strong, supportive community that will continue throughout your four years at Washington University. You will also be paired with a junior student mentor who will share advice and give support from their journey so far.
In the spring, WIS students also participate in the Catalyst for Change Program, a two-day STEM workshop on Washington University's campus for ninth-grade girls from across the St. Louis area.

What Students Have to Say

Chloe Stile

"Women in Science is a great course for first years because you learn about how to deal effectively with and become aware of discrimination in schooling, workforce, and daily life. In addition, you form a very tight-knit community that you can turn to concerning concerns about STEM or any questions you may have being a first-year college student."

Rachel Ekker

"We all get to know each other pretty well, and that is a good resource to have. We also get to know slightly older women who also have been through the program and are interested in similar careers. It's not just a class. It's a community, and this community is what makes the program special."

Sidney Levingston

"Incoming freshmen should take Women in Science because it’s more than a class—it’s a community. WIS helped me find a place within the WashU campus starting from day one, and some of my fellow members are still my close friends three years later. Dr. Baumgartner and Dr. Frey have also been strong role models and advocates for us, and I know I can always turn to them when I need help. Between semesterly lunches, mentorship among WIS cohorts, and even volunteering together during Catalysts for Change, I feel strongly connected to the program!"

Hang Xue

"Having been exposed to both academia and industry, it solidified my decision to pursue Ph.D. programs in plant biology. I'm excited to devote myself to valuable research topics and contribute my knowledge to help the world deal with serious societal challenges in the areas of food, environment, energy, and health."

how to apply

The application process for first-year programs and seminars opens on Tuesday, May 15, at noon (CT) and closes on Tuesday, May 21, at noon (CT). There will be a link to the application webform on the First-Year Programs homepage during this time for you to sign up.

First-Year Programs homepage



Women in Science

Throughout the centuries, women were interested and involved in the sciences. Their scientific contributions, however, have often been overlooked and their abilities questioned. In this year-long course, we will read biographies of famous women scientists and mathematicians, in addition to scholarly articles, to examine women's involvement in science and mathematics from the nineteenth century to the present. We will explore the ways in which women have pursued scientific knowledge, look at the cultural factors that affected them, and investigate the impact of scientific theory and social conditions on their opportunities and identities. In addition to reading about women in science, we will hear a variety of women talk about their careers. Faculty from chemistry, biology, engineering, earth and planetary sciences, medicine, physics, and medical administration may visit, as well as female scientists who work in industry. This course is restricted to Women in Science Ampersand program participants who must have concurrent enrollment in Introduction to Women's Studies.



Women in Science: Contemporary Issues

Following the history of women in science that we explored in the fall semester, this class will discuss and analyze current issues in gender and science. We will look at the feminist critique of science and scientific objectivity and also examine women's careers in science. A few questions will be central to our inquiry: Could alternative science and mathematics education help increase women's representation in fields that continue to be male dominated like physics, engineering, and computer science? How do social expectations of men and women impact career choices and retention? In addition to exploring these issues, we will hear from several women scientists. Drawing from both the Danforth and Medical School Campuses, our visitors could include faculty members from chemistry, biology, engineering, earth and planetary sciences, medicine, physics, and medical administration, among others, who will share their reflections about women and science. This course is restricted to Women in Science Ampersand program participants.