The conversation about underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) of women has made progress over the last few years, with 70 more women working towards a bachelor’s in the field in the 2018-19 school year than in 2014. However, with women making up over half of the world’s population, there is still work to be done to encourage women to become STEM majors on Boise State’s campus.
Addressing this problem, the upcoming event, SheTech, will engage high school girls with different subjects throughout the STEM industry in order that they can have a better idea of what they would like to study if they enroll at a university.
“We’re encouraging young women to go into STEM fields. There’s a big demand for engineers [and]computer scientists in the Treasure Valley and in Idaho,” said Leandra Aburusa-Lete, student support coordinator for the College of Engineering. “We’re always working on increasing the number of women that come into the engineering program at Boise State, so the SheTech efforts just go right along with our goals.”
To encourage the attendees of SheTech, which will take place on Thursday, Jan. 23, the College of Engineering has assembled a panel of current women in the program to answer questions about their experiences. Addie Lupercio, a Ph.D. student in the material sciences department, will be participating on the panel.
“I think events like these are important for girls to be able to not only get exposure to what career options are out there, and what support and programs are out there to get them where they want to go but also to see other women in the roles that they typically see men in,” Lupercio said.
Encouraging young women to see themselves in new ways is exactly what Women Innovators, one of the organizations putting on SheTech, does. Alecia Murray, the co-founder of the organization, said that they hope to show girls at an impressionable time that women really work in the same capacity as men, and events like these are necessary to show that.
“STEM and technology is part of everything we do, and so we want to find the interest that the girls already have, and we want them to embrace it and feel confident that they can be a part of it to solve the problems of tomorrow,” Murray said.
The SheTech event will be designed around what the students want to engage with and are interested in. By doing this, Murray hopes that the event will encourage them to explore different options, as well as see real-world examples of what it will be like working in those fields.
Tiffany Bernsten, a senior in computer and electrical engineering, explained that this exposure might make choosing a STEM major less daunting for students.
“I know when I was in high school or younger I had no relations to the STEM field so I ended up just stumbling upon engineering without really knowing what STEM was,” Bersten wrote in an email. “If any girls do end up in the STEM field, being a part of events like this will help them feel just as prepared as all of the other students.”
By bringing high school students together to engage with different areas throughout the STEM field, SheTech aims to help young women further understand what their interests might create for them, and the ways in which they can achieve their goals despite it being difficult.
SheTech is looking for volunteers from the Boise State campus. Those interested can reach out on their website.