Tucson is a beautiful city with a beautiful pod. In October, the pod graciously hosted the 500WS board meeting and we were able to meet some of their awesome (130!) members. The women have created a highly active, sustainable pod with a variety of projects that keeps their members engaged and interested. One of their secrets might be that they have 9 women on their leadership team each focusing on a different job - events, advocacy, communication, treasurer, outreach, etc. Read on, and maybe you’ll get some ideas for your own pod meet ups! Thanks Tucson :).
Location: Tucson, AZ
Number of women: 130
Frequency of meeting: Bi-Monthly
Mission statement: The Mission of 500 Women Scientists - Tucson is to promote a diverse and inclusive scientific community that brings progressive, science-based solutions to southern Arizona. We are fighting to expand the diversity of faces, voice, and minds in science in order to better reflect and serve our Tucson community.
How did you come to this mission, why is it relevant to your city and state?
Tucson is a beautiful city made up of Native American, Latinx, and American culture. A majority of our members are associated with the University of Arizona and this plays an important role in educating and sharing knowledge. Collectively, we are a force of passionate individuals who are committed to helping out community while motivating different groups about science.
How have you grown your pod and ensured a diverse group of women scientists attend the pod meetings?
Our meetings are hosted in different geographic locations bi-monthly. We’ve held meetings on campus, public libraries, bars, and coffee shops. Each location allows for all age-groups to attend and are all spaces that agree with our mission statement.
Can you talk about your past activities/successes, any favorites you want to share, and how they are important to your community?
March for Science: Over 30 members gathered on stage to represent our values as women scientists in Tucson.
SpacFestIX- This event celebrated Planetary and Space Science. Astronauts from the Apollo, Gemini, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station programs, were featured speakers, and a wide variety of space artists and authors attended. We had the honor of interacting with former congressmen Gabrielle Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly.
Tucson Festival of Books: This allowed us to reach a highly diverse part of the community. Families and students were able to ask about female scientists while taking pictures at our table with a golden frame that they could hold with science themed paper props.
Supporting UA GALS- We supported Girls on outdoor Adventure for Leadership and Science (GALS) in their first fundraiser. High school girls from Tucson, AZ spent a week camping learning about ecology of their surrounding area with members of the University of Arizona community. GALS aims to: (1) increase science literacy and content knowledge; (2) increase confidence in participants’ ability to pursue science interests; and (3) increase self-awareness, teamwork, and leadership skills.
Write a letter to your mentor: We met at a local brewery and wrote letters to our old and current mentors. A handwritten letter to someone who has impacted our life is extremely special to receive. This allowed us to “reclaim” them again as mentors and to update them on what we are doing now.
What future plans to does your pod have?
As the year ends we have reflected on the many achievements our POD has accomplished. This also means members will be leaving and new members will be joining. Currently we are focusing on turning over leadership roles and acquiring new membership through more outreach and really concentrating on the importance of our mission here in Tucson, AZ.
If you have a specific project you worked on we would love to hear about it, and tips to share with other new pods.
Thank Your Mentor Day: 500WS hosted a letter writing campaign at our local Public Brewhouse. We wrote letters, shared stories, and celebrated the mentors that have supported us.
Within each letter little notes were attached that read “ YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS LETTER BECAUSE YOU HAVE PLAYED A STRONG, SIGNIFICANT, AND/OR MEMORABLE ROLE AS A MENTOR FOR A WOMAN SCIENTIST. YOUR ATTENTION, ENCOURAGEMENT, AND TUTELAGE HAVE CARRIED FARTHER THAN YOU COULD IMAGINE.”.
When hosting an event use social media to get the word out but also make flyers and post them up all over your community. Below is our flyer from this event. This effort will bring in a more diverse group of attendees and may potentially spark the interest of future women scientists!