Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity


WIE / WISE / CWD / CERSE Timeline

In the late 1980’s the Women in Engineering (WIE) Initiative was established under the leadership of the dean of engineering. Shortly afterwards, WIE expanded to Women in Science & Engineering (WISE). Mentoring, tutoring, and the freshman intervention program were available to women of all ethnicities in the sciences and engineering. Programs were designed and implemented based on research and evaluation of their effectiveness. Conducting both research and evaluation of the programs that were implemented offered the opportunity to inform our practices.

In 1998, WISE received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) and the 1998 WEPAN National Women in Engineering Program Award. Both awards were directly related to increased retention, programmatic efforts, and the design, development, and dissemination of a Curriculum for Training Mentors and Mentees in Science and Engineering.

In 2000, the WISE Center was re-positioned to be the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) and the focus became running the WISE program, and conducting research, evaluation, and graduate student programs in STEM fields. In 2004, the WISE program was moved to direct supervision in the College of Engineering, leaving CWD. CWD was a self-sustaining unit within the College of Engineering and the executive director reported to the dean of engineering.

In 2015, Suzanne G. Brainard retired as the Executive Director of CWD and Elizabeth Litzler became the new Director.

In 2016, CWD moved administratively and physically to the UW Department of Sociology.  We re-named ourselves as the Center for Evaluation and Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) in October 2016 and continue to be a self-sustaining unit.


Photo of Suzanne G. BrainardThe Center for Workforce Development was lucky to have Suzanne G. Brainard, Ph.D. as the Executive Director of the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) at the University of Washington, until her retirement in March 2015. She was also an Affiliate Professor in Human-Centered Design & Engineering in the College of Engineering and an Affiliate Professor in Women Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington. Suzanne’s research was focused on issues of recruitment, retention and advancement of women of all ethnicities in engineering, science and the workforce, using such methods as longitudinal tracking and national institutional climate studies. More recently, Suzanne had conducted research on the social and ethical implications (SEI) of Nanotechnology, the career pathways of nanoscientists and nanoengineers, and the ethics of mentoring in engineering as part of the RCR-Engineering Project.

Dr. Brainard is one of three co-founders of the Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network (WEPAN) and a past-president. She is a past-chair of the congressionally mandated Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science & Engineering (CEOSE) and served on three National Academy of Engineering (NAE) committees on Diversifying the Engineering Workforce. She was a recipient of the 1998 Presidential Award of Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) and the recipient of the 2001 Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and American Women in Science (AWIS).

Suzanne G. Brainard Diversity STEM Scholarship
We support the Suzanne G. Brainard Diversity STEM Scholarship which recognizes the remarkable work of Dr. Brainard by awarding an annual scholarship to an exceptional student who impacts STEM diversity. As founder of UW WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) and co-founder of WEPAN (Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network), Dr. Suzanne Brainard has influenced countless female scientists and engineers. She has been a trusted mentor and a passionate advocate for diversity at the UW. Please visit here for more information or to make a gift to the scholarship.

Historical Programs

In the past, CERSE has designed and implemented programs contributing to diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and the workforce. CERSE no longer runs programs, but still works to help people evaluate their programs.

All programs were designed to foster increased recruitment, retention, and advancement in STEM fields, especially for women and underrepresented minorities. Student-based programs for undergraduate and graduate students focused on providing mentoring, ethics training, and professional development. Faculty- and workforce-based programs offered training, networking, and career development.

Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3) Program

Global E3 is an international exchange program designed specifically for engineering students and administered by the Institute of International Education on behalf of participating universities. The Global E3 program provides opportunities for students at member institutions to receive academic credit for courses taken at overseas institutions, and practical training in a foreign setting for a summer, semester, or academic year. Students pay regular tuition to and maintain regular student status at their home campus.

Students are able to study in any country overseas where there is a participating Global E3 university. More than 50 universities are currently participating in most world regions and new member institutions in new countries are continuing to join the program. Some universities offer courses in English and students are also able to study in French, German, Spanish, and other languages. Language and culture preparation courses are available for some countries.


Mentoring Program & Graduate Student Tracking

The Center for Evaluation and Research for STEM Equity has administered and evaluated a graduate mentoring program for graduate students in science and engineering fields, with a focus on women and under-represented minorities. CERSE offered two mentoring programs: The Faculty and Graduate Mentoring Program and the Nanotechnology Mentoring Program. We used evaluation data from the mentoring program and student tracking data, with approval of the UW Institutional Review Board, to answer important questions about graduate student progress. This research was partially funded by the NSF IGERT for nanotechnology and the NSF National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) grant.

The student tracking system created by CERSE includes three questionnaires. One is administered to students upon entry to the program, the next is administered to students at the end of each year in the program, and the last is administered shortly after graduation from the program.

  • Blaser, B., Wheeless, A. & Litzler, E. (2007). “Enhanced Connections: Making Changes to Mentoring Programs for Science and Engineering Graduate Students.” WEPAN Annual Meeting Proceedings, Orlando, FL.
  • Wheeless, A., Blaser, B. & Litzler, E. (2007). “Mentoring of graduate students in STEM: Perceptions and Outcomes”. ASEE Annual Meeting Proceedings, Honolulu.



Social and Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology (SEIN)

Gender and Nano Workshop

The NSF-sponsored Gender & Nano Workshop was held over 1 ½ days on May 12 & 13, 2011 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) headquarters in Washington D.C. The goals of the sessions were to provide a format for lively and candid discussion and to produce a document that provides a consensus of opinion for future directions in research pertaining to participation of women of all ethnicities and backgrounds in NT/NS fields.

The participants addressed the following research questions:

  • What are the career pathways for women faculty in NT/NS? Do women of color follow different career pathways?
  • What are the specific challenges or barriers women face in NT/NS? And, were these different from other STEM women scientists? Are the specific challenges women of color face different than other women?
  • Did the scientists have mentors in undergraduate, graduate or post-docs? How has mentoring impacted their career?
  • Do the scientists believe that there are effective interventions that would facilitate the careers of women faculty in NT/NS? If so, what are they?


Nanoethics on the World Wide Web: Helping Faculty Enhance Graduate Education

Funded in 2008 by the National Science Foundation and building on CERSE’s related nanotechnology research through the NNIN since 2004, this project involved developing a comprehensive, multifaceted web resource for faculty to utilize in incorporating social and ethical issues in nanotechnology (SEIN) as well as hosting an international symposium on Nanoethics held in 2009.

The primary goals of this project were to:

  • Bring awareness to the importance of ethics training for the emerging nanotechnology workforce.
  • Provide faculty with free access to instructional materials available in multiple formats.
  • Encourage graduate students to gain an appreciation of the application of ethics training in their everyday research activities as well as the larger implications of their research.
  • Provide a centralized resource for Nanoethics teaching materials.

Through a University of Washington Nanoethics seminar students developed case studies under supervision of trained faculty. The case studies address social and ethical issues related to nanotechnologies and nanoscience through realistic scenarios and real-life examples. The case studies can be used for creating discussion, debate, and learning about ethical and social implications related to nanotechnology and work well as a stand-alone lesson or incorporated into existing curriculum. Finally, nine original commissioned papers on social and ethical considerations related to Nanotechnology and nanoscience are also available on this website.


Allen, E. E. & Bassett, D. R. (2008). Listen Up! The Need for Public Engagement in Nanoscale Science and Technology. Nanotechnology Law and Business, 5(4): 429-439.

Bassett, D. (2005). “Nanoscience and nanotechnology: An overview.” (Posted on the NNIN Website)