There is a significant gender gap in employment in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
The United States census states that in 1970, women made up 38% of all U.S. workers and 8% of STEM workers. Today, women make up 48% of all workers, but represent only 27% of the STEM population. Women with STEM jobs earn 33% more than women in non-STEM jobs, but for every $1.00 earned by a man in STEM, women in STEM earn only $0.86, according to the United States Department of Commerce.
Seeing other girls around campus gives fellow women in STEM a sense of belonging. It can be difficult to find more than 10 girls in computer science and engineering classes. Not having many women around makes it tough to make new friends who can relate to your experiences.
However, there is steady improvement; the NJIT Class of 2026 reported a record-breaking increase in female students. “31% of the incoming [class of 2026] identify as women, and in the Honors College, we’re up to 44%,” commented Dr. Burcak Ozludil, associate dean of the Honors College. In terms of the total enrollment, 1108 are men and 503 are women.
The statistics above demonstrate the need to encourage and support young women pursuing increasingly important STEM disciplines. Women With STEAM is an Albert Dorman Honors College initiative to engage, empower, and incentivize students who identify as women and non-binary students and are pursuing their studies in STEAM.
Lois Chipepo, a former member of the Honors College team, initially founded a scholarship program for female students. After Chipepo retired, Women with STEAM was taken over by Ozludil, who visualized a more interactive organization with frequent events among students, faculty members, and alumnae. It has two components, the first being the scholarship and the other being an opportunity where members, faculty and alumnae meet and network with one another. Rather than a standard club, Women with STEAM is governed by students, alumni, and the Honors College team.
They organize events such as a Meet and Greet at the start of the school year, where the organization welcomes new members and introduces alumnae mentors. Additionally, they host talks on gender-related topics and networking events. Selected scholars are invited to all events and have the opportunity to become a leader within the program. The selected scholars will have the opportunity to interact with their STEM coach, who will be an alumna experiences in a STEM field.
In the last year, Women With STEAM have worked on launching a mentorship program, which will be launching during the Fall 2022 semester. They are also collaborating with the Murray Center for Women in Technology to create more programs for women to interact with mentors in industry and the university. The group is strict about attendance; they want scholars to be outspoken and share their viewpoints and ideas. The program aims to empower women and girls in STEAM disciplines.
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