Niagara University hosted a “Women in STEM” panel Saturday, March 19, in Dunleavy Hall. The panel, led by both students and professors, discussed the challenges and successes of young women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It was the final of three events held at the university in commemoration of Women’s History Month.
Four female undergraduate students from the university opened the panel by explaining how Niagara encouraged them to actively participate in STEM. Each of the four students is involved in some form of collaborative research project with one or more of her professors and has been made to feel comfortable doing so.
“It’s very easy to get a hold of your professors and talk about ideas,” sophomore Danielle Allan explained. Allan, a computer science major, is currently collaborating with a professor to develop mobile applications that will be beneficial to campus life.
Junior Allyssa Wadsworth chimed in with her own comments. “You can always go to (your professors). Sometimes, they’ll actually come to you looking for help on something. It’s a two-way street between professors and students.”
Wadsworth is working on several research projects with her professors at Niagara University, which have led her to present her work at a number off-campus conferences.
Some panelists discussed the impact of stereotypes in the media and workplace, especially on young women.
“There’s a really interesting study where young girls are asked to draw a scientist,” Dr. Sherri Cianca, a professor of education, told the audience. “You may guess what they draw – they all draw a white male, usually with frizzy hair and a white coat. Girls identify a scientist in that way so they might say, ‘That’s not who I am.’”
Due to Niagara University’s commitment to student equality and success, its faculty and staff provide female students with the courage to ignore these stereotypes and pursue their passions, inspiring a new generation of women in the world of STEM.
“I can be a girl and still be interested in science,” Dr. Cianca said. “We work together and support one another, and we want our students to be a part of that.”
For more information on Niagara University’s College of Arts and Sciences, please visit www.niagara.edu/coas.
Article by Bridget Cauley, a communication studies major.