Columbia BME Women's History Month Luncheon

Apr 04 2023 | By Fatima | Edited by Harry Kelso

At the close of the 2023 Women’s History Month, Columbia University's Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee held a special event, the Embracing Equity Luncheon, to discuss the importance of gender equity in science and engineering. The event was hosted by BME’s DEI Chair, Professor Elisa E. Konofagou, current BME master’s student and a member of the DEI committee, Fatima, featuring a panel of distinguished guests, including Professor Treena Arinzeh, Assistant Professor Elham Azizi, Senior Vice Dean Helen H. Lu, Department Chair X. Edward Guo, current BME master’s student Özgenur Çelik, and BME alumna Hannah Ballard.

After introducing the theme of the event, Fatima introduced the panelists to the audience and allowed them to have lunch for 20 minutes. Before the panel started, Professor Konofagou started the discussion with opening words about the department’s DEI committee, giving an overview of activities and goals. The discussion began with Fatima prompting questions about gender equity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Professor Guo talked about the department's commitment to gender equity, highlighting that 36% of the faculty are underrepresented minorities. Professor Lu spoke about how Columbia Engineering and the BME department have been at the forefront of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Professor Arinzeh, Director of Diversity of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Engineering Mechanobiology (CEMB), discussed the steps that have been taken over the years to address intentional biases in STEM fields. Özgenur Çelik and Hannah Ballard highlighted the importance of mentorship and networking to promote equity and inclusivity.

Professor Guo also discussed the BME Rising Stars in Engineering in Health initiative that the department has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. Professor Azizi shared her perspective on how to uplift everyone irrespective of gender and embrace equity by giving opportunities to everyone at the level they are at and not what is expected of them.

Throughout the luncheon, the panelists provided valuable insights and suggestions on how to promote equity in BME and STEM more broadly. The luncheon was another excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to come together and learn from one another's experiences and perspectives.


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