Interested in helping to make an impact on the lives of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) worldwide? Or are you intrigued and simply want to learn more about STEM? The University of Arizona Global Campus Women in STEM Club is open to all students and alumni who are interested in STEM-related career fields. You can find the club on LinkedIn.
Why You Should Join Women in STEM
Whether you are a current or former student of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics, you’ll find members of this club to be a supportive group of individuals. If you’re a UAGC faculty member, or a leader in a STEM industry, you are encouraged to join as well so that others can learn from you and maybe even lean on you when it comes time to get a job or a professional reference.
In addition to providing the ideal atmosphere for networking, the Women in STEM club provides an online outlet for people in STEM industries to be involved in making positive changes globally. We reached out to Lead Faculty Advisor Lisa Sims and Women in STEM Club Interim President Shavon Andrews, who shared more about their life experiences, why they founded the club, and provided the top five reasons to join. Read on to learn about the club, its leaders, and discover the benefits of membership.
Two Minority Women, Two STEM Leaders, One Reason to Launch Women in STEM
Both Shavon and Sims know first-hand what it’s like to be a double-minority in a white male-dominated STEM environment, where racism and sexism are still very much present.
“Women have been unrepresented in STEM careers,” Sims explains. “I have always been a minority — both in gender and race — in most of the information technology teams that I have worked on in corporate America,” says Sims, who is a full-time faculty member at the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at UAGC.
Sims recalls a specific memory of being overlooked in her career despite being well-qualified.
“I worked for a lighting manufacturer as a programmer/analyst in my early STEM career out of college,” Sims says. “I was overlooked for promotions within the company despite producing quality work, while less qualified people were promoted,” Sims recalls.
After about 10 years working in information technology in the areas of software development in corporate America, Sims eventually started her own business. She has published eight books (six self-published), most recently, “Effective Digital Learning: Transforming Traditional Learning Models to a Virtual World.” She is also the creator and host of the “Stretching a Dollar For Entrepreneurs” podcast which is based on her first book — “Stretching a Dollar To Save And Make Thousands: An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Doing More With Less.”
Also a double-minority, Shavon has faced negative experiences in her life dating back to when she was a young child. The most significant example of inequality that she experienced was as a gifted STEM student moving from a majority-black public school system to a majority-white system.
“The board of education where we moved would not accept that I qualified for their gifted program in elementary school, and I cried to my mother — hurt that I could not comprehend why,” she recalls. “My mother had to fight and pull so many records of tests that I received to prove my intelligence. By the time we went through all of that to get me in, my passion for being gifted was not there anymore.”
This experience crushed her spirit and stopped her from pursuing her goals. When she entered her sophomore year in high school, she quit the program and stopped pursuing her interest in STEM education and careers.
“Twenty-plus years later, I decided not to allow a minority status influence my decisions,” Shavon says. “I enrolled back into school and changed my focus from Psychology to Information Technology. I also noticed the IT department at my job is male-dominated, and I plan to join forces with them after graduation! I have chosen two STEM mentors at my job, one male and one female, to see all sides of the field.”
Today, Shavon, a single mom of a 3-year-old daughter, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at UAGC, works full-time as a Claims Associate for State Farm and is the Diversity & Inclusion liaison for her claims team. Plus, she’s a member of the Women in Technology Employee Resource Group at State Farm.
Discover the five reasons to join the UAGC Women in STEM club and learn how the members are growing together.
1. Everyone Is Welcome
Although the club is called Women in STEM, men are welcome and encouraged to join and participate.
“You do not have to be currently working in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics field to join,” Sims explains. “Anyone with an interest in learning more about Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics fields can join.”
She has experienced the benefits of the club firsthand and encourages all students to join a UAGC club.
“Become an officer and start building relationships with other group members on LinkedIn,” she encourages. “It has been said that we are separated by six or fewer social connections. We can see this in action on LinkedIn. It’s not always about what you know, but who you know that counts and lands hidden job opportunities.”
2. You Can Learn About STEM and More
The club’s focus is on integrating its Women in STEM members with industry experts, professionals, and other university students to build relationships and share expertise that will prepare and enhance their STEM careers. The club also has various UAGC resources such as career services that can help women pursue internships and jobs in STEM fields.
Additionally, Sims says the group regularly posts STEM-related articles and event announcements that benefit group members.
Women in STEM is part of the Girls Who Code and Women in Technology International organizations that provide resources to help women thrive in STEM careers, she adds. The group also hosts monthly virtual webinars and meetings that are also livestreamed on the UAGC Facebook Page. Later, they share the events on LinkedIn.
3. It’s a Safe Space for Women
The Women in STEM club is dedicated to providing women with a safe space to discuss careers and issues they encounter in the workplace. “They also need support, motivation, and encouragement to persevere and excel — we offer that,” Sims says.
Sims is 100% correct about women in STEM needing encouragement and support — especially those in the field now, and those who plan to enter the field in the coming decade. Take a look at the stats:
- According to the United States Census Bureau, “women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but only 27% of STEM workers.”
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM-related occupations are expected to increase 8% by the year 2029. However, the progress for women filling those positions is projected to be slow.
- The Census Bureau further reported in 2019: “Women made gains – from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019 – but men still dominated the field. Men made up 52% of all U.S. workers but 73% of all STEM workers.”
- Another surprising stat, “Among the 70 detailed STEM occupations the Census Bureau reports on, women earned more than men in only one STEM occupation: computer network architects. But women represented only 8% of those in this occupation.”
4. The Resources
By having Girls Who Code as the club’s umbrella organization, there are numerous resources and opportunities to educate, empower, and encourage equality and inclusion of women globally in STEM careers. The club also has access to various UAGC resources such as Career Services to assist women to pursue internships and jobs in STEM fields.”
Additional benefits of joining Women in STEM at UAGC include:
- Career resources
- Monthly presentations from faculty and guest speakers
- Mentoring and student leadership opportunities
- Partnership with Women In Technology International
- Additional online resources
5. You Can Help Make a Global Change
Shavon explains that the club was established, in part, to focus on why women appear in low numbers in the careers of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math when STEM careers are multiplying.
“We are here to empower women and help them manage the challenges of a gender-imbalanced circle,” she adds. “We are here to collaborate on ideas and start a dialogue to benefit from our organization and college community. It is time to close the gender gap and focus on increasing the number of STEM role models and mentors relatable to our future success story.”
Joining the club is simple. Simply visit the group on LinkedIn to learn more or email Lisa Sims if you have any questions.
Charlene R. Melson is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the UAGC Forward Thinking blog.