Women & Hi Tech – Grown from STEM: November Edition


Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing, safe, and healthy holiday weekend!

Like many, I work to be intentional to incorporate a gratitude practice into my daily life. The holiday season always bring gratitude to the forefront for me. I am sure that it does the same for most. As I often do for our “Grown from STEM” newsletters, I have been doing some research, this time around mindfulness and practicing gratitude – the multitude of research and resources available to begin and deepen our mindfulness and gratitude practices is innumerous. I found mindful.org to be particularly interesting because their recommendations and advice were backed up by data and science, which as a “STEMinist” I loved and thought you might too. Here’s a couple of things I learned:

“Researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley have commissioned a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, to dig deeper into the health benefits behind the art of appreciation.

What are the effects of practicing gratitude?

It boosts your mental health. Those who write letters of gratitude reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, which could contribute to improved mental health over time.

It helps you accept change. When we are comfortable with the way things already are, it can be difficult to accept when things change—let alone feel grateful for that difference. But when we make it a habit to notice the good change brings, we can become more flexible and accepting. Here are four ways to practice gratitude when change arises.

It can relieve stress. The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us.”

In alignment with practicing gratitude, I have paused to think about why I am grateful for Women & Hi Tech’s two events yet this year. Our Virtual Holiday Networking Event on December 2, 2020, and our fourth quarter Virtual Book Club on December 12, 2020. For me, an extrovert, this year of staying at home to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic has at times been difficult mentally and emotionally. I miss people!

As I reflect, I am incredibly grateful to have opportunities to connect, grow, learn, and have some fun with other STEM professionals at Women & Hi Tech’s upcoming events. I am also grateful that our organization took a stance years ago for equity and inclusion. I’m thankful that Women & Hi Tech has created an environment and events where diversity and each individual’s uniqueness are welcomed and appreciated. And I am beyond grateful that so many others, you, Women & Hi Tech’s members, sponsors, partners, and friends, have joined us and support our mission to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. Thank you to each of you!

To attend Women & Hi Tech’s December virtual events, please go to our website’s events page to register. I am so looking forward to connecting with old friends and making new friends. We’d love for you to join us!

Also, a heads up that Women & Hi Tech will host our first Virtual Executive Women’s Forum in 2021 on February 11, International Day of Women & Girls in Science, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly. Mark your calendars now to join us for -A CASUAL, CRUCIAL COVID CONVERSATION WITH INDIANA’S HEALTH COMMISSIONER – DR. KRISTINA BOX. Registration for this event will open in early December 2020.

In this 23rd edition of “Grown from STEM,” we are excited to introduce you to and invite you to learn more about our Networking Director, Dr. Maria Alvim Gaston, and our dedicated member, Arwa Ghalawan. Both women are incredibly accomplished in their respective STEM fields; Dr. Alvim Gaston, a chemist, and Ghalawan in the field of technology. Dr. Alvim Gaston and Ghalawan are champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly for women in STEM, in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives. Please read more about Dr. Alvim Gaston and Arwa Ghalawan and how their backgrounds, STEM expertise, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

As we began in the October 2020 edition of “Grown from STEM,” we are delighted to continue to feature one of our 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) recipients in this newsletter. This month we continue to celebrate and recognize Women & Hi Tech’s Inaugural Equity & Inclusion Champion Award recipient, Erica Diebold, Senior Intellectual Property Manager (Patents) at Roche Diabetes Care, Inc. Erica was the first transgender employee at Roche in Indianapolis and faced significant internal backlash for her decision to manifest her true self. She met these reactions with courage, sharing her unique perspective on the challenges of womanhood, and resolving to do all she could to eliminate those challenges. She has built increased allyship for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community at Roche and in the local community, including developing allyship training. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Erica’s passion and drive for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Erica!

Kind Regards,

Rebecca Bormann

President, Women & Hi Tech


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