Alexandra Rubalcaba Ruther
Being a college student is hard enough, but imagine having only a few people like you studying in the classes for your major.
That is a driving motivation behind City College’s Women in Science and Engineering Club. The group gives women majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) a relatable support space in fields that are primarily dominated by men.
“Just having this club as a breather moment every week with a bunch of girls in the same major as you are or in STEM; it’s very refreshing,” said WISE club President Eve Lizel Javier. “[It’s] kind of like you have a community.”
Previously known as the Women in Engineering Club, the group changed its name to WISE to become more inclusive, welcoming all STEM majors.
The club offers a community of peers who go through the same feelings and pressures of being part of the small number of women studying in STEM fields.
According to the American Association of University Women, “Only around 21% of engineering majors are women and only around 19% of computer and information science majors are women.” The National Girls Collaborative Project cites that women make up just 28% of the science and engineering workforce
“It was kind of overwhelming going into a class of like 30 men and just two other girls, or you could be the only girl in the class,” said Javier.
Students noted that engineering professor Dr. Nick Arnold takes the time while in class to make students aware of the male-dominant presence in STEM fields.
“Many of the men were unaware of the problem and wanted to fix it,” said bioengineering major Elizabeth Moore, WISE club outreach officer. “It is something I’ve noticed, it is noticeable, and it’s bizarre.”
COVID-19 has made organizing and getting together challenging, but WISE officers have worked around the pandemic to find fun activities and create beneficial events.
WISE club members have found ways to have team-building activities over Zoom by featuring pastimes like scavenger hunts and Pictionary.
The club will be holding its first event of the Spring semester on February 19, which will be an internship and résumé building workshop that is partnered with the Career Center.
During the fall semester, WISE brought in guest speakers from Engineering 101 classes to speak with club members.
Officers anticipate continuing to bring in guest speakers and host collaborative opportunities for members through the struggle of COVID-19 to maintain a support system.
“I think having a club like WISE is very important especially in male-dominated majors,” Javier said.
“It’s very empowering.”