A STREAM into male-dominated fields

New UVa-Wise college organization supports greater involvement by women in science. technology, research, engineering and math professions.

Although science used to be a field dominated by men, it is now a diverse field with both men and women represented. Despite this growth in diversity, there still remains many challenges and stigmas that women in the science fields must overcome.

Women in Science, Technology, Research, Engineering and Math (STREAM), the newest club on campus, hopes to highlight those issues and help students better prepare for entering the workforce.

“The purpose of the Women in STREAM group is to shed light on relevant issues that women face in fields of science, technology, research, engineering and math,” said Dr. Alexandria Reynolds, assistant professor of psychology and advisor for the group. “We want students and faculty to have a forum to discuss issues, learn about work/life balance, and for students to have a source of mentorship from upper-level students as well as faculty.”

These issues that Reynolds noted are ones facing women all across America. In 2013, a study at Yale University found that the vast majority of male science professors at American universities widely regarded female undergraduate students as less competent than male undergraduate students with the same skills and accomplishments. As a result, the women deliberated in the study were far less likely to get offered mentoring or jobs and, even if they were offered jobs, the salaries were generally lower.

As a result, many women in the sciences often lack a positive role model because the number of women going to graduate school for the sciences is significantly lower than that of males. Women in STREAM looks ready to help students at UVa-Wise conquer many of these issues.

“We plan on discussing issues in academia and industry fields as well as how to get into graduate school, important strategies for negotiating salaries, maintaining sanity while also raising a family and how to address discrimination in the workplace,” said Reynolds.

The idea for the group first came from a series of discussions between Reynolds and assistant professor of psychology Dr. Madelyn Shell. They noted that there was a need for such a group on campus and that they had encountered similar groups in their undergraduate time.

“I was a part of a similar group at my previous institution,” said Reynolds. “I really valued having an avenue to talk about issues that women face in research and science, as well as suggestions from seasoned faculty on how to handle some of these issues.”

There certainly was plenty of response from other professors willing to help. Women in STREAM benefits from having several experienced professors all offering to lend advice and mentorship to help women overcome these issues. The group has the support of Reynolds, Shell, assistant professor of biology Dr. Josephine Rodriguez and chemistry professor Margie Tucker.

The group isn’t strictly for women, though. Women in STREAM is open to any faculty and staff, male or female, who are interested in the science fields. Reynolds said it is important to have men and women in the group so that they can get more information out there about all the issues in the field.

The group also hopes to host several events to provide opportunities for younger generations of girls to be exposed to the STEM fields.

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