KC-WiSE: A Community to Support Women in STEM Fields
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, “women make up half of the U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.”
Some of the King’s College faculty members took notice of this startling statistic. Dr. Janine Janoski, one of the founding members of KC- WiSE, says that she, along with Dr. Elise Heiss, Dr. Kristi Concannon and Dr. Maria Jump, started to “make a plan this past summer.” They felt they had to do something to support more women – including students and faculty – in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Thus, the King’s College Women in Science and Engineering (KC-WiSE) program was born.
Through this new program, women are encouraged and supported to research and work in the STEM fields. Within a relaxing environment, professional programs, social activities, lunch discussions and mentoring circles are held. Faculty, staff, students and anyone who supports women in STEM – both men and women – are invited to join KC-WiSE.
Professional programs are intended to inform and describe the life of a woman working in STEM-related fields. Women who are experts in STEM fields share their knowledge and experiences.
Some of these experts may even be King’s College alumni or other professionals in northeastern Pennsylvania. These discussions will include a broad range of topics, from balancing life and a STEM career to sharing their own struggles being a woman in such fields.
Students, especially, will be able to gain an understanding about various STEM careers and education.
Social activities and events are a major component of KC-WiSE, as attendees can converse with fellow STEM enthusiasts in a comfortable atmosphere. This will allow members to meet and get to know more people on King’s campus. “STEM students,” Janoski adds, “can network and gain valuable resources.” It will be an exciting opportunity to have lunch and coffee with new faces.
A unique aspect of the KC-WiSE organization is its mentoring circles. A small group of women-only faculty members and students come together to provide guidance and encouragement for women in STEM. The group can include an underclassman and upperclassman with a professor, all of whom could have different STEM majors and fields. They will meet three times a semester in informal, positive settings, such as over coffee. Students can relax and be stress-free while discussing important life matters.
Alexis Perez and Victoria Zawacki, two students who attended the first KC-WiSE meeting on Sept. 30, are both “looking forward to the mentoring circles.”
Perez said that she wants to “help another student push through and follow her dreams or goals.”
It is clear that the students have great faith in what this new King’s program will bring and do for women in sciences and engineering.
Above all, this program aims to empower women in various STEM fields. Studies have shown that female role models enhance female students’ academic performances and their future career satisfaction. The mentoring circles and social events will bring this premise to life. Furthermore, a general consensus among King’s students who attended the KC-WiSE meeting is that the program is needed and vital.
Zawacki noticed “a severe lack of female students” in her STEM-related major.
Perez shared her own struggle of pursuing a science-involved major and career.
“People have told me that I shouldn’t proceed with the career I want to because it might inhibit me from getting married or having kids,” Perez said. “So by having this support, I can push through and follow my dreams and still have a family.”
The KC-WiSE organization aims to erase the stereotype that women should only be stay-at-home mothers. It will show that women can not only raise a family, but at the same time make great strides in STEM-related careers.
Kruschef Sanchez, an attendee of the KC-WiSE meeting, agrees that negative stereotypes about women in science are harmful to both women and the scientific community as a whole.
“Harboring negative stigmas will only work to damage the community and would ultimately create an environment in which scientific growth would stagnate,” Sanchez said.
The program will show that women can not only raise a family, but at the same time make great strides in STEM-related careers and further scientific growth and discoveries. Sanchez further emphasizes that, “the discoveries that are made today can benefit the lives of tomorrow.” It is an outright necessity for women and men-alike in STEM-fields to better technology and scientific advances for future generations.
Janoski said KC-WiSE’s main goal is “to create an accepting and forward-looking community.” King’s students can thrive and grow with all this organization has to offer. Faculty and other expert speakers can provide students with advice, such as where to go after graduation, and crucial resources, such as possible career opportunities.
Heiss, another founding member of KC- WiSE, further explains that students will learn, “how to make a living and how to live.” It is evident that KC-WiSE is a significant and stimulating new organization to the King’s College campus.
For more information, visit the KC-WiSE website at departments.kings.edu/kcwise.