Women in STEM club looks to address representation in field

Collegian profile picture

Andrea Huete, Copy Editor (She/Her)

Fields related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are largely male-dominated. 

But one student organization is encouraging women to apply for a STEM major as members familiarize themselves with classmates, help empower and encourage each other, and let the world know there are needs for women in all STEM fields.  

Women in STEM is looking for new members to join the organization. Members of this year’s executive board include Kyra Fennel, Abby Rost, Janessa Lo and Jordan Saunders.

“As a woman in one of these fields, I can say first hand that in the major-specific classes at SDSU, I am usually one of – or the only – girls in the class,” Abbigail Hanson, mathematics ambassador and treasurer, said. “We use this club as a resource for other women to make connections with potential classmates.”

Even though the organization aims to encourage and support women within STEM majors, Hanson wanted to add that they “accept both women and men in the club.”

“There have been moments where I have felt inferior working with men, especially when they talk over me or disregard my opinion,” Fennel said. “However, over the years I have learned to be more assertive, and I hope other women in the field will learn the same.”

One of the goals of the club is to help other women in STEM find this same assertion and confidence in their male-dominated fields.

“I have never felt inferior working with men,” Hanson said. “However, I have noticed that I am in one of the minority demographics as a woman in the workplace. I remind myself that I am just as, or more, educated as/than any of my co-workers or classmates, so I deserve to be in the position I made for myself. It is all you can do to remind yourself you belong.”

The organization started over three years ago in spring of 2019.  It’s currently being co-advised by Julie Leibold and Nicole Grove. Both are Lecturers in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. 

“Advisers help facilitate the things clubs want to do and help with keeping finances compliant with university policies,” Leibold said. “So I can offer advice on events/logistics, help connect the club with people and facilities, and other administrative type things.”

During the Student’s Engagement Expo, the organization had many young women interested and was viewed positively by the student body. However, not many know about the club, so promoting it has been a challenge.

“People are encouraged to join to have a supportive group to talk with and have access to professional development (professional panel discussions, connections with employers and post graduate students/faculty) within the STEM disciplines,” Leibold said. “We also do several community building/fun activities a year.”

The club has about 15 students interested in attending meetings regularly. Members promote the organization by hanging posters around campus, sending out emails and posting on social media.

As the president of the organization, Fennel said that with her current position, she is in charge of putting together the meeting ideas, reserving rooms, scheduling times to meet, sending out emails, posting on social media and recruiting members. 

“During our executive meetings, everyone is involved in further developing the meeting ideas and brainstorming other ideas” Fennel said.