New club supports and empowers women in STEM

WiSTEM is a new club at Seton Hall working to create a supportive community for women pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The President of WiSTEM, Katherine Lefferts, a senior biology major, said she saw the need for a community of women in STEM after observing the demanding course load of STEM majors along with the intimidating nature of going into a male-dominated field.

“It can be really tough to be a STEM major,” Lefferts said. “Especially if you are a woman or a minority, it can feel even lonelier. If you are both, it can be even lonelier. Honestly, the only way we get through the really long nights of studying and all our academic demands is by having a community of people who are here for us and support us.”

WiSTEM was created this semester and they have many plans for the future. For example, they hope to create a “Big Sister, Little Sister” program in which upperclassmen can mentor the underclassmen. They also hope to set up a tutoring system.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Lefferts
President Katherine Lefferts said she saw the need for a community for women in STEM.

Sherry George, a junior biology major and WiSTEM officer, said the club wants to partner with SHU Women of Diplomacy and SHU Women in Business next semester and have a conference with breakout sessions.

WiSTEM wants to represent all of the STEM majors, so there are many leadership positions open. Anyone interested is encouraged to reach out.

“We definitely have a lot of positions still open because we want people to represent each major,” George said. “So if anyone is interested, we are definitely [looking] for people trying out. It’s not going to be like other boards where it is very demanding. We all understand each other’s schedules and how hectic it gets.”

“We are going to have a much larger student leadership body than most student organizations,” Lefferts said. “We realize that at any given time we will lose all of the biology majors to a big exam or all of the chemistry majors to a big exam. We want to be able to keep cohesive leadership.”

Though the club just started this semester, Lefferts said they have already been receiving a lot of support from the Seton Hall community and faculty. They have received many positive reactions from people who are thrilled to see this new community for women of STEM blossom at Seton Hall. In addition, they have already heard from numerous students who are excited to join. The faculty has also been very supportive and encouraging.

Cecilia Marzabadi, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is part of the faculty Women in STEM Group. The Faculty Women in STEM Group said it is excited to collaborate with WiSTEM in the future.

“The faculty have had a couple of meetings to begin organizing,” Marzabadi said. “We met in the spring of 2019 and plan to meet again this coming week. We plan to partner with the student organization in many of our activities.”

“We are going to welcome everybody,” Lefferts said. “It’s not just about being a woman or a STEM major. It’s about supporting gender equality and creating even more community for students on campus and even more support for each other.”

Genevieve Krupcheck can be reached at genevieve.krupcheck@student.shu.edu.

Author: Genevieve Krupcheck

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