My passion for science and engineering started before I was old enough to understand under-representation of women in STEM fields, gender discrimination, and wage gap. I was raised to believe that girls could do anything boys could do and that all career paths were open to me. Recently, as I started preparing to enter the workforce, I realized that I was not living in an era of equality. Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”, Gene Russo’s “Turbulent Times”, and Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s “The confidence gap” was eye-opening, inspiring, and most of all frightening. According to SPIE 2014 Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report, men earn 40% more than women, with respective median salaries of $77,000 and $55,169. This wage gap is also consistent with Nature’s finding that “Large salary disparities persist between male and female researchers.”
We are fortunate to have our ASLMS values: excellence, integrity, multidisciplinary, leadership, and professionalism. The vision of the ASLMS is to be the world’s preeminent resource for biomedical laser and other energy based technologies research, education, and clinical knowledge. The celebration of ASLMS Women in Energy-Based Devices is a first step in ensuring excellence in research and innovation by fully including women and a diversity of people. We are positioning ASLMS as a “go-to” resource for help with recruiting and retaining women in energy-based device specialties.
The Celebration of ASLMS Women in Energy-Based Devices is designed to empower us, women and men of all levels of training and careers, to engage in ongoing advocacy for the profession and ourselves. The commitment of ASLMS to creating a culture that helps retain and advance women is evident. When ASLMS leaders recognize and emphasize the value that women bring to their companies and institutions and embrace diversity and inclusion, they create a culture where all can thrive and succeed. By highlighting how inclusion of women is vital to innovation and improving the quality of life, we are able to impact those currently in the field, and those considering a career in energy-based devices.
As an early career scientist, I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to demonstrate the value of diversity, and I encourage readers to find ways to become engaged, too. There is still a long way to achieve equality, but I am convinced that in ASLMS, we are making a positive and lasting change toward greater diversity in energy-based device workforce and leadership.