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Women in STEM – Michigan solutions to a growing problem

Recently, the Harvard Business Review published a fascinating, and troubling, look at the institutionalized biases that women face in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields; biases that ultimately result in not just fewer women pursuing a STEM career, but fewer maintaining an existing career. This is a national problem and female participation in STEM fields is waning still.

The article, “The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM,” was written by Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law. It is data-rich and eye-opening. I’d like to jump into this conversation by spotlighting a few of the many people and initiatives across Michigan working hard to level the playing field.

The University of Michigan WISE Program

The University of Michigan WISE program is a collaboration between various fields and departments at the University of Michigan. The program is designed to promote and increase how many girls and women enter into and complete degrees in STEM fields.

The program takes an all-encompassing approach to its advocacy. UM WISE programming includes pre-college programs (grades 6-12), programs for undergraduate and graduate women. They describe their main objectives as follows,

  • Serve as a catalyst in the development of inclusive, on campus environments
  • Introduce girls, young women and their supporters to careers and opportunities in STEM fields
  • Provide professional development and leadership opportunities for women in STEM degree programs
  • Encourage undergraduate women to pursue graduate degrees
  • Contribute to research and evaluation of WISE issues and initiatives.

More information on the University of Michigan WISE Program.

Pushpalatha (Pushpa) Murthy

Pushpa Murthy is professor of chemistry at Michigan Technological University. In addition to being a professor, she is program director in the Division of Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

Pushpa’s passion is promoting and advocating for women in STEM fields. She is renowned for her work in India advocating for underrepresented demographics in faculty and professional development. She traveled across India organizing workshops for women. For many, it was their first ever experience in an event for their own career advancement.

Pushpa has returned to the United States and Michigan where she works in concert with the Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists. She aims to continue her research and advocacy for underrepresented minorities in STEM, sharing her experience and passion.

More information on Pushpalatha Murthy.

MSU Women In Computing

Michigan State University Women in Computing is a student-faculty organization open to both men and women with a passion for recruiting, supporting, and retaining women in computer science fields.

They host many events both on-campus and off, targeting young girls and college-age women. Just recently, the MSU WIC was selected to receive a funding from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to hold a tech workshop for female middle school students at the Lansing STEM Academy.

More information on MSU Women in Computing.

Scientista Foundation – University of Michigan Chapter

The Scientistas at University of Michigan are a student group of organized, intelligent, and dedicated women with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They focus on fostering an open environment of acceptance and promotion for pre-professional women in science and engineering.

More information on Scientista Foundation – University of Michigan Chapter.

Image Source: Library of Congress

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