Inspirational Women in STEM

Engineering is not just for boys. Women are underrepresented in many STEM fields, but that does not mean they can’t do it. Science can be challenging and seem less accessible when it is male dominated, but The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at UMD strives to change that.

Saturday, December 10th, SWE hosted “Mommy me and SWE” which is an event where young girls (grades 1st-3rd) came with their mom or guardian to do hands-on science related crafts. The students provide leadership and inspiration to the local community. This event allows young girls to get exposure to STEM and interact with women engineers. The goal is to get young girls excited about science and inspired by women.

UMD student and SWE participants smiling

This year there were 16 student volunteers and 40 young girls. They made lip gloss with kool-aid, hand grabbers with popsicle sticks and terrariums from disposable water bottles. “It's really exciting being able to make an impact and potentially spark an interest that could lead to a career in the future.” Said Sophie Lenz, senior in civil engineering.

This event was a success with young girls smiling and having fun creating crafts. At times there was intense focus but joy after the project was completed.

Organizations like SWE are necessary in creating an inclusive and supportive environment. It connects students with similar interests and provides them with resources to help succeed.

“You see all these women pushing themselves into fields where there is a ton of representation and it makes you want to be better and strive for more.” said Sarah Stone, recent UMD graduate in electrical engineering and first year graduate student.

UMD student and SWE participant focusing on a project

SWE also provides community engagement and leadership opportunities. Over the rest of the school year SWE will host another outreach event called “Into Engineering” as well as career development events and game nights.

STEM careers are challenging but with the right resources, motivation, and inspiration, anyone can do it. Women in STEM can encourage and support their peers as well as younger generations.