Organization for women in STEM fields relaunches

Correction: Katie Kalhar’s name was originally spelled incorrectly. This issue has been fixed. The Barometer regrets the error. Katie Kalhar (left) talks about why she came to the kick-start STEMINIST meeting that took place on Oct. 16, 2019 in the Student Experience Center. 

Zoe Sandvigen, News Contributor

On Oct. 16, Steminist relaunched their organization in the Student Experience Center in hopes to form a new inclusive community of students.

The Steminist were originally created to provide a safe space for women to come together and talk about the gender inequalities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Gabrielle James, directory of Student Engagement, Whitney Archer, diversity and cultural engagement associate director and Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center assistant director, and Sahid Rosado Lausell, Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives coordinator teamed up as the new founders in recruiting students, clubs, organizations and anyone with a passion for equality in the classroom and career fields of STEM.

The event began by stressing that the Steminist organization is powered by students. Archer, one of the group’s leaders, said the organization started years ago with a few women who would discuss the feeling of isolation and struggle of being present in a space that was mostly dominated by men. The group would sit over lunch and discuss their issues before attempting to expand campus-wide with promotional stickers and word of mouth. The small group eventually disbanded from lack of support.

To why the Steminist dispersed the first time around, James said great groups on campus tend to fizzle out without the support of other student organizations, or when students don’t engage. 

“I think the last time this was launched the Women and Gender Center were hosting some wonderful events and there was a really great community of people wanting to talk about feminism and STEM environments and their experiences,” James said. 

Archer said the Steminist organization is working to gather resources from the staff, students and organizations involved to meet the needs of the group moving forward. 

Kamaile Shand, member of the Society For Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, was familiar with the group’s initial start years ago. She attended the event after receiving an email about the restarting of the initiative.

“I really want to and put my stamp in for uplifting women,” Shand said. 

As a woman who has been in classes that are male-dominated, Shand said she felt excited about the values of the Steminist and being recognized as a woman in the STEM field. In one of her science classes last year, her professor addressed the women in the class specifically. 

“In that class, our professor made all the males leave. He talked to us and he was like, ‘I’m aware that there’s a difference of sexes in this class and you might feel suppressed by the male opinion and ideas. I’m aware of that and will try to help,’” Shand said. “I felt really heard that he was aware of that, because a lot of professors just go on with their lecture and call on all the guys raising their hands. That was really empowering for me.”

The Steminist plan to grow and form a schedule and basis according to students and groups involved. For now, there are not hard rules set yet for the organization as they push forward, placing an emphasis on the members and their ideas. 

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