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Female engineers advocate for STEM field

On March 12, in Classroom 2 of the Raymond H. Fogler Library, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) hosted their first book club meeting, titled “STEMinism.” The purpose of the club is to advocate for women pursuing careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“Being a part of SWE gives you so many opportunities to make connections, go on trips, meet women and men in your field of interest and help you find your passion or major,” Kate Macolini, a third-year mechanical engineering student and the SWE outreach chair, said. “We do things like go to National Conferences every year, which can help you network and earn you a future job or internship opportunity.”

One of the goals of SWE is to empower women and to prepare them for the professional world by helping students to meet people in their career field of interest and to help build up their resumes. The first book club meeting was designed to introduce students to each other and to reveal information about the lack of strong female characters in books written in the United States.

Some of the books the club will read include “Hidden Figures,” “Geek Girl Rising” and “Bioinspired Photonics.” The Raymond H. Fogler Library website has a full list of the books for the club.

“Over half of the college degrees in this country are earned by women, yet we still are experiencing a fairly large wage gap and unequal treatment in the workplace,” Macolini said. “These are a few of the books that highlight strong female characters and advocate for women joining careers in these fields.”

The hour-long meeting included an introductory powerpoint, three hands-on learning activities and round tables, and a reflective experience where each woman got to share what she had learned. One of the activities revolved around naming and identifying famous women in the STEM field, some of which included Ada Lovelace, Margaret Hamilton, Grace Hopper and Hedy Lamarr. Their pictures were displayed on the table and matched with their correlating description of their achievements.

An interactive activity also demonstrated bio-inspired engineering. The activity showed club members how building structures, trains and other design ideas can stem from the anatomy of animals and sea creatures. There was also a round table discussion where students could read certain articles about self-advocacy in the workplace, and share tips for applying for jobs, going through interviews and standing up for yourself as a woman in an office or workplace.

“My favorite part about this was learning about women in STEM and meeting other people from engineering,” Angela Wang, a fourth-year chemical engineering student and the President of SWE, said. “It is also important to always advocate for ourselves as women.”

This week’s book club was the first in the series, and SWE meets in the Memorial Union on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. They also organize and host social events throughout the semester, and plan trips to different conferences and events around the area.

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