Bringing women in quantum research together to form a professional and informal network. With that goal in mind, CWI researcher Stacey Jeffery and colleagues started the WIQD network. The idea has been received enthusiastically, attracting interest in quantum academia, as well as financial commitments from NWO and the Kavli Foundation. WIQD now aims to bring its mission into practice with a symposium for all quantum researchers in science, industry, and policy.
While many scientific areas have seen special networks for female researchers ramping up, quantum research has so far lagged behind a bit in this respect. Still, many female quantum researchers could benefit from such networks, say Stacey Jeffery, who works as a quantum scientist at CWI and QuSoft. Together with a diverse group of peers, she started the network Women In Quantum Development (WIQD).
WIQD’s mission is to bring together female quantum researchers from industry, academia and policy. “The idea to establish WIQD arose when I heard about the so-called 'leaky pipeline' of female talent in science”, says Jeffery. Somehow, women leave science at a higher rate than men. “I was wondering why more women are dropping out of science, and conversely, why I had stayed.”
Mentors and informal networks
Jeffery soon found out the answer might lie in her own informal network of colleagues, mentors, and friends. “In graduate school, I was put in a very large group of peers. I noticed it’s easier to find your way around as a scientist when you’re from a big group, and can rely on their advice. Also, a bigger network allows you to see more role models and different types of scientists.”
In the Netherlands, scientists generally come from smaller groups, says Jeffery, who started her scientific career at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “But still, the Netherlands is quite small, and it’s possible to get everyone in quantum together.”
Jeffery started the WIQD network with Julia Cramer, a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University. Together they set up a steering committee, which now consists of eight members from a wide variety of backgrounds. Jeffery: “This means the committee has a broad view on networking, and different perspectives can be brought into every aspect that’s being discussed.”
A WIQD symposium held in the OBA Library of Amsterdam on 18 March 2020, will be the network’s first major event to bring its mission into practice. Though the programme is still in the works, the symposium promises to offer an inspiring meeting, featuring talks, discussions and plenty of room for socializing and networking.
The WIQD symposium has already welcomed dozens of registrations. “There’s definitely a demand for meetings like this”, says Jeffery. “But there’s still room for more participants.” She notes that WIQD does not exclusively welcome female participants. “Anyone who thinks they could benefit is welcome to join.”