In 2018, with the support of many sponsors and several grants, including from KIETS, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) successfully hosted its first Maria Mitchell Women of Science Symposium (MMWSS/Symposium) – a sold-out event that had a waitlist. Professors from California to North Carolina, researchers and scientists and administrative professionals from all walks of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) were in attendance. The MMA held its third Biannual MMWSS on September 22-24, 2022. Due to scheduling issues at the Babson Executive Conference Center where it was planned to be held in person, the symposium was switched to a virtual format. The goal of the MMWSS is to promote and support women of all ages in STEM. Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer, believed in learning by doing. Her lifelong work was not just in astronomy and mathematics but also in fighting for the place of women in science and women’s education. To that end, one of the main goals of the MMWSS is to be an experience in which all participants are helping to create real-world solutions, including devising support systems all along the education and career path for women and girls in STEM.
The 2022 online MMWSS saw over 200 registrants. Undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral candidates, professors, teachers, administrators, scientists, and non-profit and for-profit employees of STEM-related entities – all were in attendance. On the introduction of KIETS, some of the featured speakers at the MMWSS were Dr. Nancy Gray, Director of the Gordon Conferences and Ms. Shauna Young, Kenan Fellow and Director of the Scratch Foundation. KIETS support helped with transitioning to a virtual format and leveraged resources from the Simons Foundation, Massachusetts Space Grant, Novartis, Mass Bio, Mount Holyoke College, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, DE Shaw and Company, Tupancy-Harris Foundation, Schwartz Hannum, Vassar College, The American Philosophical Society, and Siemens. Building upon the now three MMWSS, the MMA has begun to develop local salon gatherings with the first held in March 2023. Through these salon gatherings, attendees begin to develop real-world solutions and ideas that they can take back to their places of work/education to begin to make differences for women in the STEM fields. The MMA intends to host an in-person MMWSS in 2024.