How students are contradicting "nerdy" stereotype of STEM
Published by USA Today Colleges on March 30
The concerning number of women in scientific, technologic, engineering and mathematic fields (STEM) has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years from the White House, the business sector and universities across the country working together to create feasible solutions.
Despite growing numbers, women hold roughly 28% of jobs in STEM fields, and make up less than 20% of college graduates holding a degree in those fields.
For their part, institutions of higher education are finding ways to attract and support women in STEM majors, establishing programs ranging from all-female residence halls to mentorship programs.
At Gettysburg College, students not only joined the national trend of empowering female STEM majors but they claimed ownership of the program too.
Their efforts culminated into STEMinists, a club whose goals include challenging the nerdy male stereotype of people in STEM while also mentoring and supporting other females interested in STEM.
“Being the only girl in your classes can be overwhelming,” says founder Kirsten Crear. “We want to serve as mentors to younger girls in our majors to help them deal with the same issues we deal with too.”
Founded this semester, the club has already received an overwhelming response from the campus community.
“I was shocked,” Crear says. “Forty students have already joined, and faculty and alums are just as excited too.”
To best harness the outreach of faculty and alumni, the STEMinists are organizing a panel discussion and networking event to connect female STEM majors with alums working in STEM fields.
Crear also wants to include philanthropy in the club’s general operations, expressing a desire to participate in the YWCA’s Legos afterschool program and other events that target young girls interested in STEM.
“This nerdy stereotype is one of the main reasons that there are so few women in these fields,” Crear argues. “It deters girls at an early age and has a ripple effect as they get older. We want to serve as mentors and show them that you don’t have to be some nerdy guy to be interested in math or science.”
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