Why few women major in STEM fields, and what the UO is doing to change that

One look at data compiled by the UO’s Office of Institutional Research from fall 2013, says it all: 34.2 percent of undergraduates majoring in mathematics are female, while 42.8 percent of chemistry majors are. Females make up 20.9 percent of physics majors, while computer science undergraduates have the lowest percentage with an unsettling 14.1 percent.

[ via Daily Emerald ]

Revamped computer science classes attracting more girls

Berkeley, Stanford and a handful of other universities have experienced a marked uptick in the numbers of female computer science students. Those increases have also coincided with a reimagining of computer science classes, especially introductory ones. In some cases, that meant doing away with aspects of classes that seemed to specifically discourage young women.

[ via San Francisco Chronicle ]

UNC women to share a love of physics through Women in Physics club

The group holds weekly meetings on Thursdayswhere female physics students discuss their homework questions, listen to guest speaker lectures and eat dinner together. Sheila Kannappan, a female professor in the department of physics and astronomy, said the group provides a supportive environment for women to successfully finish their degree requirements and go further in the field.

[ via The Daily Tar Heel ]

Wanted: Women who want a college degree in a STEM field

At Columbia University, the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) organization hosts campus speakers who talk about what it’s like being a women in a top tech position. They also run a graduate-undergraduate mentorship program to aid underclassmen women in anything from study methods to applying for jobs.

[ via USA Today ]

STEMinist Profile: Julie Kientz, Assistant Professor – Univ. of Washington

Kientz-Headshot

Julie Kientz

Assistant Professor

University of Washington


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I had wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember, but while I was in high school and doing a job shadowing project, I fainted while watching a dog undergoing surgery! I realized I probably needed to find a new career path after that. I had been spending a lot of time online and chatting with people on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and was amazed by how useful the Internet was in connecting me to places and people beyond the small town where I grew up. One of my online friends encouraged me to try out programming, and so I did. It was really fun and I was hooked! After that, I decided to pursue computer science.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I am definitely really proud of the Baby Steps project I’ve been working on since about 2007. The idea is to help parents of young children track developmental progress in their children from birth through age 5 to help detect things like autism or other developmental delays sooner. The idea is that the information will be stored in a centralized database, so we have been working on ideas to use technology to reach parents no matter how they use technology or what their access to it might be. We’ve been using a software application, a website, Twitter, text messaging, and more to try to reach as many parents as we can! It’s been really rewarding to work on a project that can have the potential to help many different families. Also, now that I have my own daughter, I am finding it fun and really useful to use to track her development.

Role models and heroes:
Growing up, I remember really loving to read about Sally Ride, the first female astronaut. It really made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to, and that there was no job that was beyond reach because of my gender. I’m also a big fan of female computer scientists Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper and of Harvey Mudd’s current president, Maria Klawe.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love the feeling that I can create anything in the digital world and use those abilities to help others. Computer science is not just a bunch of math like a lot of people think, but it’s actually a creative process that requires a lot of different types of thinking. Also, the work I do in human-computer interaction involves both working with people to find out what they need and then developing prototypes of that technology and making those ideas come to life. This makes it both challenging and exciting.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Computers touch almost every aspect of our lives these days, and thus there are a number of opportunities to apply computer science to almost any thing that interests you, whether it’s healthcare, art, science, music, games, movies, or more. By combining your work with the things that interest you most, you can definitely enjoy it a lot more and feel good about it. Also, stick to it, even if it gets hard. There are a number of fun things you can do once you get really good at computing.

Favorite website or app:I really love my Fitbit, which I’ve been using for almost 3 years now. When you spend a lot of time with computers, it’s really easy to spend a lot of time not moving. My Fitbit keeps me accountable for making sure I get enough activity, and it also is fun to go back and look at the data and compete with friends for the highest number of steps.

Twitter: @juliekientz

Site: faculty.washington.edu/jkientz

Two Princeton Scientists Honored for Research By L’Oreal USA Fellowships for Women in Science

Anisa Salim Ismail and Luisa Whittaker-Brooks were among five women chosen for this year’s grants of up to $60,000, which go to outstanding United-States-based candidates in the life and physical/material sciences, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

[ via Town Topics ]

Why First-Year STEM Girls Attend Women’s Colleges

Smith College is unique because it is an all-women’s liberal arts school that also has an engineering major… I had several reasons for choosing Smith College. One was the STRIDE program Smith has, which allows freshmen and sophomores to work on a research project with a professor as part of a work-study program. I know that will be an amazing opportunity for me.

[ via The Huffington Post ]

‘Stemming the tide’ of women leaving chemistry

Recent studies have shown that there are still hurdles that women have to overcome, but successful departments have felt the benefit of mentoring and creating a supportive environment. More still needs to be done to help fix the leaky pipeline – and some of the problems, such as wider societal perceptions and expectations, are bigger than the departments they affect. However, by continual monitoring and increased awareness, the proportion of female senior scientists should improve.

[ via Chemistry World ]

Applications open for Univ. of Florida program empowering women in tech startups

The free nine-week experiential learning program addresses the lack of female leadership in technology-based businesses by empowering women to develop entrepreneurial skills and learn about technology commercialization. Less than 10 percent of venture-backed startups nationwide are headed by women. However, statistics show venture-funded companies led by women generated significantly greater return on investment and had a higher percentage of initial public offerings.

[ via University of Florida ]

Liverpool’s new Life Sciences University Technical College proves magnet for female students

…after it was confirmed around three-quarters of applicants are female, delighted campaigners said it was an important victory in the fight for more women to break into the traditionally male-dominated science sector.

[ via Liverpool Echo News ]