Supporting Women in STEM Careers

by Jessica Skorut

GoEngineer Continues Its Legacy of Supporting Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

GoEngineer is stepping up again to encourage the involvement of girls and women in STEM careers by supporting the Female Researchers Chapter (FRC) of the International Association of Computational Mathematics (IACM), which aims to promote gender balance in STEM-related careers. “I have daughters in school right now that I would love to see them more involved in science and engineering activities,” says Brad Hansen, president of GoEngineer.

The chapter chair and founder is Professor H Alicia Kim, Professor of Structural and Material Optimization at the University of California San Diego. She leads the group with a number of other committee members. “In computational mechanics, women tend to be the minority,” says Kim. “Our goal is to promote gender balance and provide a supportive network for female researchers.” The FRC chapter started about two years ago as a networking group within the IACM. There are currently about 100 members who attend various international events.

Pania Newell

Pania Newell

“I think most people don’t know how they can support female students in STEM programs,” says Pania Newell, FRC Event Organizer. Newell was unusually fortunate: “I worked at Sandia Labs for six years, and my manager went above and beyond to make sure his hiring practices were completely fair.”

Newell is also an assistant professor at the University of Utah. She obtained her Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Her main interest is investigating multi-physics, multi-scale phenomena through integrating theoretical, experimental, and computational analysis.

“We need more men within industry and academia to encourage the involvement of women and to help remove barriers, such as by nominating qualified female colleagues for awards,” says Newell.

The sad reality is that biases remain.

In STEM fields in particular, female employees often need to work two or three times harder than their male counterparts, first to prove themselves to their colleagues, and after they gain trust, they still need to work harder to maintain that trust, according to Newell. “I think everybody should be judged based on their pure work, not because of their gender or the color of their skin or where they came from.”

STEM CareersBecause there are so many barriers, the number of women in STEM programs decreases at the masters and doctorate levels.

Surprisingly, the ratio of graduation rates of men and women in STEM-related careers is much more equal in Brazil, India, Portugal, Iran, and others. But in the United Kingdom, the United States, and China, there are far fewer women in STEM programs and STEM-related careers.

GoEngineer, however, is helping to change that. GoEngineer-sponsored robotics teams, kids camps, and other educational STEM events have a more equal male/female ratio. Some GoEngineer-sponsored STEM events have even had more girls than boys in attendance.

If you’d like to support the Female Researchers Chapter of the International Association of Computational Mathematics or learn more about its networking events, please visit their website.

See the interview with Pania Newell, PhD, FRC Event Organizer.

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