March is Women's
This year’s national theme is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This theme is meant to honor generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the STEM fields.
As part of our Women’s History Month celebrations, the Women's Center and CWIT are partnering to showcase six talented women in engineering and IT fields at UMBC. The future of women’s history is being created as we speak and there is importance in sharing our lived stories now. We invite you to join us throughout the month of March to learn more about these women, their experiences, and their dreams.
Science major & STEM Editor of Retriever Weekly
sparked your interest STEM and the journey to choosing your major.
My interest in STEM was sparked in my sophomore year of high school. I took Computer Science 1 at my high school to fulfill my technology education requirement. My father encouraged me to take Computer Science over some of the "easier" options. I discovered that Computer Science was fun and came naturally to me. I had an amazing teacher who noticed my interest and convinced me to be in her Computer Science AP course the following year. My teacher continued to encourage me, pointing me towards various extracurricular opportunities, including MESA (Math, Engineering and Science Achievement) and NTHS (National Tech. Honor Society). I experimented with various kinds of engineering, but ultimately chose to stay with software design and Computer Science.
Tell us about an
internship, research experience or project that you are proud of.
While I’m proud to have been a part of a lot of projects and programs, the one that shines out most is my internship at Booz Allen Hamilton the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. I worked on a team of 12 interns, four of whom were women. The high concentration of women was significant in making it one of the best intern experiences I've had. As a team we worked in conjunction with three full-time employees to build an automated testing capability for an existing project from scratch. In ten weeks, we built a library of automated tests that could be applied and used in many different ways, and created documentation for that library so that it could be easily referenced. After we left, our manager contacted us to let us know that the work we did was ultimately crucial to the final completion of the project.
Who are your role
models in the engineering or IT field?
First, Dianne O'Grady-Cuniff, the teacher who inspired and encouraged me in high school, who spent many hours after her work day working with students to encourage our interests, and is super committed to education. I hope I can one day encourage and inspire young women the same way she does.
Second, Marie desJardins. I admire her confidence and the projects she works on. Whenever I have told Dr. desJardins I have doubt in my abilities, she tells me a personal anecdote about how she feels a similar way but still manages to achieve the successes she's achieved. Ultimately, I admire her self-confidence and strive to replicate it.
Third, Lady Ada Lovelace. Lady Lovelace is one of the
iconic figures in computer science history. Although at the time her work was
largely unnoticed, she predicted most of the common programming constructs that
we use today. Lady Lovelace, like myself, enjoyed writing in addition to
computing, and managed to raise a family while collaborating on one of the
world's first computer. Her iconic success is my reminder that one woman can go
a long way in changing stereotypes related to women in the STEM fields.
experience as a woman in a STEM major, including the challenges as well as the
As a woman in STEM, I'm always aware of the fact that I'm female in a class of mostly guys. I tend to count the number of women in every class I've been in at UMBC and am always aware that the ratio between men and women in my classes will be skewed. Another challenge of being a female in the STEM fields is that everyone, and even sometimes yourself, assumes your success can be attributed to the fact that you're a woman, and not because of your skills. The desire to prove you actually belong and have achieved your own success will never go away.
The rewards of
being a woman in STEM include an instant community with other women in STEM.
Every woman in the field knows the battles you will face and they will help you to succeed. Additionally, being a woman in STEM means that you are defying a stereotype and hopefully becoming a role model for the future.
The Center for Women In Technology (CWIT) is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the creation of technology in the engineering and information technology fields. CWIT efforts begin with nurturing a strong group of Scholars, grow to building community resources for other women in these majors, extend to fostering a healthy gender climate and ITE pedagogy in College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) departments, and finally expand into outreach efforts to increase interest in technical careers. A successful program for female-friendly engineering and information technology education at UMBC will help make UMBC a destination for women (and men) interested in technical careers and serve as a national model for other universities.
Learn more about our community athttp://www.cwit.umbc.edu/
For more information about Women’s History events and happenings, visit: http://my.umbc.edu/groups/womenscenter/news/24724