The Scarlet

Clark Students Work to Bridge the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

Kate Summers, Scarlet Staff

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Women hold only 24 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), despite the fact that, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, women make up 48 percent of the workforce.

“Being a woman in STEM feels like an honor while at the same time I constantly feel like I have to prove myself. Within environmental science, women are more common than [they are in] other STEM fields, which makes me feel like I’m part of a united front and gives me more confidence that I won’t be pushed aside or overlooked because of my gender,” said Alexis Stabulas (‘18), an Environmental Science and Policy major.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic,  women make up 28 percent of environmental scientists and geoscientists. Only 12 percent of civil engineers are women.

Students at Clark are working to bridge the gender gap in STEM.

Last year, Samantha Hughson (‘19), a Computer Science major and Math minor, co-founded Clark’s Women in STEM. This new club aims to create a network of female scientists.

“This is the place where we want to bring in alumni and … professionals and show you that you’re not alone at Clark and you’re not alone in the world,” she explained.

Clark’s Women in STEM works with children in the Worcester community to spark their imagination and show that it is possible for them to work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

“I have to remember if I do ever feel discouraged because I feel like I’m not as smart as the boys in my class … I have to push because there’s so many future female Steve Jobs … that need to be inspired,” said Hughson.

In November, the club hosted an alumni panel with three Clark graduates who have gone on to work in the field of STEM. Elyse Dearskye (‘79) studied mathematics at Clark and is now application development manager at CIGNA insurance company; Jennifer Lynn (‘93) majored  in Environment, Technology and Society and now does research in the laboratory and David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rebecca Sherer (‘79)  was a senior project manager at environmental consulting firm, Tighe and Bond, for 17 years.

“We’re bringing women scientists together to create a network,” said Hughson.

Rachel Laider (‘19) is a mathematics major and member of Clark’s Women in STEM. She is often one of only a handful of women in her classes.

“It’s been good knowing there’s a group of people who will support you,” she said.

The goal of the club is to help women navigate their position in STEM related fields and inspire the next generation.

“This is the place where we want to … show you that you’re not alone at Clark and you’re not alone in the world,” said Hughson.

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Clark Students Work to Bridge the Gender Gap in STEM Fields