May 2022: WiSTEE Founder and Chair Jie Qiao served as a panelist, along with Kristan CorwinUrsula KellerTara Fortier, and Andrea Armani, for a special workshop“ Experience in breaking the glass ceiling for women in STEM,” at the 2022 CLEO conference in San Jose, CA.

Over 80 international attendees received valuable advice and insights on the glass ceiling signal, impact and path, and strategies to overcome it. Two key take-home messages are mutual support among women and building allies in your organization and professional communities.

September 2019: WiSTEE Connect’s fourth “Global Women of Light Symposium” in Washington DC Continued the discussions on Career Strategies

The 4th Global Women of Light Symposium on September 15, 2019, at the Optical Society headquarters in Washington, DC attracted approximately 80 people from 15 different countries in attendance, spanning all career levels in the industry, academia, and government.
Four esteemed panelists included Dr. Linda Braun, Dr. Gisele Bennett, Dr. Amy Newbury, Dr. Deborah Jackson, and Ms. Cynthia Simmons. Their discussion centered on “Career Strategies for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship.” The panelists offered the advice to become a strategic thinker to counter bias and balance career and life. Practical tips on how to improve confidence and leadership skills were also offered. The important role of mentors was discussed. Panelists suggested picking someone who looks like they are ahead of you in what you want to become. Ten students received sponsorship to attend this WiSTEE program.

September 2018: WiSTEE Connect hosted the third “Global Women of Light Symposium” in Washington DC.

The international symposium centered around “Career Strategies” with a panel discussion and a workshop. Open round table discussions on “The Art and Science of Thriving Women” attracted over 80 international women.

September 2017: WiSTEE Connect organized the second “Global Women of Light Symposium” in Washington DC

The second Global Women of Light Symposium focuses on building a strong network among women across academia, industry and government, and to cooperatively establish strategies to advance women’s leadership across career ranks. Panel and round-table open discussions on “Collectively Advancing Women Leadership” and “Strategies and Recommendations for Advancing Women Leadership,” were conducted. Internationally renowned women leaders from both STEM and entrepreneurial backgrounds provided their strategies and best practices on advancing women leaders in these fields. A networking session was held at the end of the event. Approximately 70 individuals from 14 countries and 43 institutions attended the second Global Women of Light Symposium.

May 2017: WiSTEE is incorporated as a non-profit corporation!

September 2016: WiSTEE Connect organized an international symposium 'Global Women of Light' at the Frontiers in Optics conference on October 17th, 2016 in Rochester, NY.

Over 100 participants from 25 countries and 80 institutions attended! The program highlighted a Panel Discussion on “Intersecting Science and Entrepreneurship”. A Salary Negotiation Workshop was provided. Round Table discussions including “What are Two Key Elements to be Successful in Your Sector as Female Scientists?” were conducted to shine light upon the careers of women in STEE.

December 2015: WiSTEE Connect hosted a regional event “Managing Stress and Leading a Balanced Life”

Our event on Managing and Reducing Stress and Leading a Balanced Life has been held at RIT on December 2nd, 2015. Dr. Valerie Newman offered advice on managing stress: Some stress is good if it challenges one to go beyond one’s abilities, but if it is chronic, it is bad stress and leads to burnout. Seek activities to destress. Having a sense of purpose is important and will get you through the hard times.

April 2014: WiSTEE Connect hosted the first Upstate New York Regional Event “Lean In together with WiSTEE Connect”

WiSTEE Connect launched the first regional event “LEAN IN together with WiSTEE Connect” at Rochester Institute of Technology on April 28th.  A lively blend of 61 women and 6 men actively participated in the opening presentation, the round table discussions, and networking activities.  WiSTEE networks/committees include representatives from Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Xerox Corporation, Optimax Systems Inc., Care Stream Health, Lifetime Health, IPLogic…

November 2013:  OSA Foundation became WiSTEE Connect Sponsor 

The OSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation established by The Optical Society (OSA) in 2002 to carry out charitable activities that support OSA’s mission of promoting the generation, application, archiving and worldwide dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics. The foundation helps cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators in the optics and photonics community as they move through advanced degree programs and become active members of research and engineering communities around the globe. To date, The OSA Foundation has awarded more than 800 grants, scholarships, and prizes benefiting thousands of individuals in more than 55 countries. For more information, visit

October 2013: WiSTEE Founder and Chairperson Dr. Jie Qiao provided a keynote speech at the Minority and Women Networking Event, Frontier in Optics, Orlando.

She discussed promoting women leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship; bridging the gap between Science and Business; and providing a forum to learn, connect and lead. Over 100 international attendees attended the session. See live record here

August 2013: WiSTEE Connect hosted a special global event during the 2013 International Summer Session on Optical Design, Engineering, and Fabrication, co-organized by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (CIOMP).

Over 80 international attendees attended the event including faculties, post-doc, graduate and undergraduate students from USA, China, Iran, South Africa and some other countries in Europe. WiSTEE Founder and Chairperson Dr. Jie Qiao, joined by a number of WiSTEE  members including Dr. Jannick Rolland, Xiangliu, Jinxing Huang,  introduced WiSTEE Connect, an organization providing cross-disciplinary and cross-university mentorship, connectivity, and leadership opportunities to women interested and aspired to succeed in science and entrepreneurship. It aims to help women faculties, students, and engineers to gain regional connections and global impact in the STEM field. Dr. Qiao also led a discussion on what it means to be a woman in STEM, the specific challenges to face, and the possible paths to overcome obstacles. 

May 2013: WiSTEE Connect established partnership with Minority & Women in OSA (MWOSA)

Minorities and Women in OSA (MWOSA) is dedicated to providing focused educational and networking opportunities, career support, grant information and related services to minorities and women in optics and photonics. Activities include:

For more information visit

April 2013: WiSTEE Connect established the WiSTEE-Boni Student Travel Grant

Thanks to Mr. Robert Boni and Ms. Diane Boni, the WiSTEE-Boni travel grant was established to provide WiSTEE members with international exposure and perspectives and enhance their academic and research experience.

March 2013: Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has recognized the WiSTEE initiative and taken an interest in this group

See link to Opening Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to More Women