WiSE: empowering women in STEM
Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) is a Hope College student organization established for women pursuing studies and careers in STEM, a common acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. Led and frequented by women, WiSE strives to create a community that empowers and encourages women in STEM through planned events and volunteer opportunities.
Megan Lopez (’22), a senior in Hope, has been attending WiSE since her first year and is now a member of the board. She plans to attend graduate school after Hope with the goal of becoming a doctor. She described the purpose of WiSE as a place to “build community and relationships among women in STEM, as this can be a very difficult career path for any woman”.
WiSE provides a fun and safe community for women in STEM to experience empowerment and collaboration in their career goals. Gracielynn Hill (’24) joined WiSE in its first year and now serves as the organization’s secretary. She mainly works on idea building, event planning and sending emails.
Historically, STEM professions have been dominated by men, which can make women feel isolated and disconnected. “We were placed in labs in an introductory class and there was only one other girl. I felt very isolated at the time, ”explained Hill. “But when I joined a group of girls who are like me, who worked together to encourage more girls to get into STEM, I just felt a better purpose.”
Hill is not the only one in this case. Thanks to WiSE, she can feel understood by other women through their mutual community. As Lopez said, “There is a connection that is made between the shared experiences.”
When asked about the challenges of pursuing a career in STEM, Lopez explained that if you experience prejudice or discrimination because you’re female, there aren’t always people willing to hear from you or to help you. She went on to stress that she “doesn’t want anyone to feel alone or isolated just because they’re chasing something they’re passionate about.”
Lopez found support and hope in surrounding himself with the women of WiSE. She said, “Seeing my female colleagues excel in their fields and knowing that there are a lot of women in STEM here who are doing very well gives me hope that the problems I have encountered in the past will continue to improve and not improve. will not happen to women in the future. . ”
Throughout the school year, WiSE meets monthly for fun and professional events. Women gain community through events such as brunches and movie nights, but there are also volunteer opportunities and panel discussions that cultivate learning and leadership.
WiSE is not only hoping for a better future for women in STEM, but they are actively pursuing it. They participated in awareness programs and volunteer opportunities in the community. Last year, WiSE spent a day with the local Girl Scouts. According to Hill, they had a science-themed day where they “worked with a large group of girls, of all ages, and worked on STEM-based activities.”
Having frequented WiSE for the past four years, Lopez says it is one of the biggest clubs on campus. “Our events are very well attended and we have a lot of women participating in them,” explained Lopez, “It gives me great pleasure to see that there are so many of us and that soon we will not really be a minority in field science. “
If you are a woman in STEM, contact [email protected] to get involved in WiSE.