Women Find Professional and Personal Support Through WiSDM

By Melissa Rosen, SDM ’11
September 30, 2011

Women in SDM (WiSDM) is a student-led organization that was conceived by the women in the System Design and Management (SDM) program. Its mission is to create a network of female leaders and to enhance the ongoing learning experience for students and alumnae of the SDM program. Although the interests of WiSDM stem from the diverse backgrounds of its members, the organization welcomes all members of the MIT community to learn more about the group and to attend its events.

Since many WiSDM members are leaders with experience in creating and managing technology, they share the unique responsibilities of being advanced career professionals who are pursuing graduate education while raising a family and/or working full time in industry. The flexibility of the SDM program attracts these professional women, and WiSDM is charged with creating the support they need to achieve balance at work, school, and home.

Melissa Rosen, left, and Andrea Ippolito have taken leading roles in Women in SDM.

The role of women at MIT dates back to the early 1900s when the first female students realized the importance of creating a network of women to enhance the sociability of the Institute. Since then, women have had a tremendous influence at MIT and now comprise half of the undergraduate student body. There are more than 20 women’s groups on campus with a variety of missions, ranging from organizing empowerment and management conferences to providing women with mentoring, safety, and wellness services.

While the women of SDM recognize the impact of these organizations, they also realize the lack of representation by SDM women in many of these important initiatives. Members of WiSDM will add strength to the existing MIT community by offering their technical experience and business aptitude, coupled with their understanding of women’s roles in professional and academic settings.

WiSDM is collaborating with the Graduate Women at MIT to organize the Fall Leadership Conference, which was previously sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, and the Spring Empowerment Conference. These events will cover topics such as assertive communication, personal branding, and the dual-career family. WiSDM is also actively partnering with other MIT groups, including Sloan Women in Management, the Society of Women Engineers (MITSWE), and the Association of MIT Alumnae. In October, members of WiSDM will be participating on a panel hosted by MITSWE to educate undergraduate women at MIT about the transition into graduate school and to discuss career options.

Currently, WiSDM is being led by 2011 and 2012 cohort representatives Melissa Rosen, Leena Ratnam, and Andrea Ippolito. As a kickoff to the annual MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges, WiSDM will host a breakfast for prospective female applicants to SDM on Monday, October 24, at 6:45 am in the MIT Faculty Club. WiSDM will also be hosting a Pilates workshop on Thursday, October 27, at 7:30 am in the Zesiger Center.

To RSVP or to learn more about the women’s initiatives at MIT, please email wisdm@mit.edu or visit WiSDM’s webpage on http://sdm.mit.edu/voices/wisdm.html.