Celebrating Women in Science

By Marcia Lesky, OSA Senior Director, Diversity, Inclusion & Volunteer Cultivation

On 11 February 2020, the world celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – a day dedicated to inspiring girls and engaging women in all STEM fields. The OSA Foundation (OSAF) was honored to once again participate in these efforts by providing 14 grants to OSA Student Chapters in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. In celebration of Women’s History Month in March and the International Women’s Day, review the stories and pictures from a few of those fabulous events!

Members of the OSA UFABC Student Chapter with the competition winners.


University: Universidade Federal do ABC
Estimated Impact: 80

Providing professional development, networking opportunities, and a little healthy competition, the event at UFABC included a competition of female scientists presenting their research at UFABC. Over 80 people from the university, other colleges and local schools attended and the best three presentations were awarded. Female speakers encouraged other attendees about research in optics and photonics.


University: Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women
Estimated Impact: 250

The Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women’s mission is to foster an environment for excellence in professional education and ensure an opportunity in STEM education for women. To celebrate the day, the University organized a Tech Talk by Dr. Pratibha Jolly, Former Principal of Miranda House, University of Delhi, Former Chairperson of the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE), and Former Vice president of the apex body International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). She spoke to more than 250 undergraduate and postgraduate students and various faculty members about the importance of STEM education for women and the role of education in women empowerment – and this is just the beginning. There are more lectures planned as well as a project based learning program in the summer as part of the Optics Week Celebration that will pair their students with a team of girls from nearby local schools.

Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women students and staff with tech talk speaker Dr. Pratibha Jolly

Members of the OSA Torino Student Chapter holding their chapter flag.


University: Politecnico di Torino
Estimated Impact: 30

Bringing together speakers from academia, industry and research the goal of this program was to provide women graduate and Ph.D. student attendees information on the different opportunities available as well as explore methods to overcoming obstacles and discrimination that occurs within the STEM community. Participants also had an opportunity present their work through poster presentations.

Country: Senegal

University: Université Cheikh Anta Diop
Estimated Impact: 20

This chapter used the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to kick off a series of activities with local high school students designed to increase interest in STEM by celebrating the study of light and its role in science, culture and art, and sustainable development. Through optical demonstrations, information on opportunities in STEM and discussions of resources that support women and girls in science the goal was to get young students to see the opportunities before them.

Attendees at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop STEM activities event celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

OSA Student Chapter members from the Universidad de Valladolid demonstrate optics and photonics to attendees at their STEM Girl Talent Program for high school students.


University: Universidad de Valladolid
Estimated Impact: 200

This chapter was able to pull of two events. The first, attended by a hundred girls who participate in the STEM Girl Talent Program, focused on high school students. This program focused on optical demonstrations and experiments with discussions of the many diverse opportunities across the photonics community. The second focused on younger students and their parents where they were able to do experiments and research the stories and contributions of women scientists throughout history.

Country: United Kingdom

University: University of Bath
Estimated Impact: 40

The Network of Women in Physics (NWP) and the OSA Student Chapter at the University of Bath came together to organize a series of eight events throughout the week including talks from inspirational women in physics, panel session to discuss their experiences, obstacles and opportunities experienced by women in science and a pub quiz. The original goals of creating a safe space to discuss diversity and inclusion in STEM and inspiring and encouraging young women to continue in the field were achieved with the added benefit of building a strong relationship between the two organizations for future collaborations.

Attendees to the Week of women in science 2020 even hosted by the OSA Student Chapter at the Unviersity of Bath and the Network of Women in Physics (NWP)

Country: United States

University: University of Arizona
Estimated Impact: 80

The Student Optics Chapter (SOCk) in conjunction with Women in Optics (WiO) hosted Prism Week to celebrate the day and highlight diversity within the college and promote the inclusion of everyone within the optics community. They brought together diverse voices from the academic and industrial Southern Arizona community to build new relationships, celebrate differences, and empower attendees to be their authentic selves. Each day of the week had a different theme bookending the week events celebrating how different backgrounds and experiences contribute to a vibrant optics community. Just as a prism shows all the wavelengths of the light incident upon it, Prism Week celebrated all the different people within the optics community who combine their unique perspectives to innovate the optics and photonics of tomorrow!

Learn More and Get Involved
Scientific innovation flourishes in a diverse and inclusive scientific community. Learn more at Additionally, your support of the OSA Foundation enables us continue to expand our diversity and inclusion programming and impact.  Please consider a gift to our annual fund at


Posted: 8 March 2020 by Marcia Lesky, OSA Senior Director, Diversity, Inclusion & Volunteer Cultivation | with 0 comments

The views expressed by guest contributors to the Discover OSA Blog are not those endorsed by The Optical Society.


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