Female students in the Boyer School will have the opportunity to join the Women in STEM Club, new in the fall 2017 semester, which celebrates female students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.
Junior biology majors Jessica Packard and Taylor Easter founded the club as a way to promote the importance of women in the science fields.
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up
half of the total workforce of the United States, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.
Easter described how the idea of creating the club came about.
“This club has been talked about among the Boyer School professors for some time now. Several professors at Saint Vincent helped to plant the seed within our minds about how to get the ball rolling. We just took the idea and ran with it, and it seems to be something that a lot of other people on campus are taking an interest in as well,” Easter said.
Packard and Easter then began to discuss starting the club and how it would benefit female students in the sciences.
“We started talking about incorporating the club on campus one night,” Packard said “and then the next day we went and spoke briefly to Dr. Koehl [associate professor of biology about our ideas and she loved the whole concept.”
Easter explained their next step in making Women in STEM official.
“We had another meeting with Dr. Koehl to further explain what we had in mind,” Easter said, “and during this meeting we set up our initial club “orientation” meeting, because we needed a required number of signatures to take to SGA to be considered for approval.”
Packard and Easter received word that their club was approved on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
The initial club was held on Thursday, Oct. 26 in the Luparello lecture hall. The first meeting was attended by over 50 people — all thirteen majors offered in the Boyer school were represented by the female audience.
Easter said she was surprised by the number of female students who came to the first meeting.
“We were a little bit nervous that we were not going to get anyone to show up or be interested in the club,” Easter said. “We were blown away by the turnout of the meeting.”
Packard sees the variety of interests and discussion of new ideas as a step in the right direction.
“We had representation from every single major within the Boyer School in attendance at the meeting, which was very exciting to see because people across the spectrum were showing interest. We have also received some great ideas from other members of the club, and things seem to be moving in a very positive direction,” Packard said.
Packard hopes that the club raises awareness of women in the sciences on campus.
“We hope that this club will provide the opportunity for women to express their own interest in the sciences, and to help others gain
insight on how important it is for women to be involved,” Packard said.
Easter wants the club to help female students share their experiences in their fields.
“We hope to have small group sessions in which we can talk about our own experiences within the science fields,” Easter said.
The women hope to grow the club and take advantage of the level of interest that has been expressed by students since the initial meeting.
Packard explained the activities and club programs they are hoping to initiate in the coming weeks.
“We are hoping to go around to some local elementary and middle schools to promote the STEM field subjects to young girls. In doing this, we also hope to provide the opportunity for these young girls, and boys, to see the sciences in a different light that they might not have seen before, by being instructed by females,” Packard said.
Easter mentioned hosting outside lectures and possibly attending conferences.
“We also are hoping to bring in outside lecturers to help broaden our horizons about what it means to be a woman in the STEM fields in the real world, and to maybe attend a conference at some point in the future,” Easter said.
The club has experienced positive feedback from both students and faculty. Female students were encouraged by the club, and expressed excitement at being able to share their experiences with their peers in the same field.
Mariana Kuo, senior integrated science major, saw the club as a positive opportunity.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for women of the Boyer school to grow and explore their options, both during their time in college and after they graduate, to create connections and open up new options for the future,” Kuo said.
Packard and Easter encourage interested female students in STEM fields to contact them to be put on the roster and email list, where the date, time and location of the next Women in STEM Club meeting will be announced.