Why are there so few women in STEM fields and what can we do about it? Last year, students at the University of Dallas decided to tackle those questions head-on by forming a Women in STEM club at UD.
Last spring, Rebecca Kolbeck, a senior biology major, joined a few friends for informal talks about starting a Women in STEM club at UD. “Some of the women who were in the STEM majors and were about to graduate mentored us and encouraged us to think about forming a club,” she said. They started out with a few informal events, including discussions about what the club would look like and even a trip to see the movie Hidden Figures for inspiration. Patricia Hahn, senior biochemistry major, and Tessa Rosenberger, junior physics major, are two other founding members of the group.
As the fall 2017 semester begins, Kolbeck and other members have turned to Dr. Sally Hicks, Chair of the Physics Department, and Dr. Ellen Steinmiller, Associate Professor of Chemistry, as mentors for the club. “We’re really in the formative stages now,” Kolbeck said. “So we’d like to research statistics on women in STEM majors at UD. We’d like to find out if female STEM grads actually go into STEM fields after graduation. And if not, why?”
Kolbeck hopes to eventually bring speakers to campus that can not only inspire young women to pursue STEM careers, but also prepare them for the challenges they might face in the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. “We’d like to hear from alumni, female professionals, and UD professors about how they overcame the obstacles to being women in STEM,” she said.
Kolbeck visualizes the Women in STEM Club inspiring the next generation as well. “We’d eventually like to talk about women in STEM fields in a broader sense, including how we, as college students, can motivate high school and middle school girls into pursuing STEM education,” she said.
For more information on women in STEM fields, read the American Association of University Women’s research report on the subject here.
For help in choosing a major or career field, make an appointment with an OPCD career counselor.