Not just a boys club: Women in engineering find success

For an organization featuring strong leaders in the areas of science, mathematics, engineering and technology and abundant opportunities to learn, look no further than the Society of Women Engineers.

The Society of Women Engineers is an international organization dedicated to giving women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry.

Members work to stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life and demonstrate the value of diversity.

“The goals of (the society) are to help females feel empowered and significant in their schooling and careers in fields that are typically dominated by men,” Bethany Dewey, mechanical engineering sophomore and vice president of SVSU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, said. “It is a group where we can all come together and make a difference in the community (by) showing young girls that having a STEM major is acceptable and … in high demand.”

Because girls may be discouraged from expressing interest in or entering STEM fields, an important aspect of the society’s outreach initiative is providing young girls with the resources they may need to find a passion for science and math.

SVSU’s chapter does this by working with local Girl Scouts organizations.

“We’re doing troop training to become Girl Scout troop leaders, and we’re doing STEM activities with Girl Scouts over a course of four to six weeks this semester,” Kelsi Benson, electrical engineering sophomore and president of SVSU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, said. “As long as that goes well, we plan on continuing that and possibly getting our own permanent troop.”

“(We tell the girls) that we can do this … and it’s not a gender bias,” Samantha Hull, electrical engineering junior and treasurer of SVSU’s chapter, said. “We’re female engineers … and we’re doing this. (Kelsi and I) have professional internships this summer… Don’t say ‘I can’t do this because it’s a guy’s job.’”

While the organization’s scholarships are for female students, men and women are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Society of Women Engineers.

“The International Conference, which we’re going to in October of this year, (is) one of the largest career fairs in the United States,” Benson said. “We actually had a couple girls go last year, and one of them got interviews … in two or three different states. It’s not just a collegiate program – it’s also (something) you take into your professional career.”

Benson’s goal is to get the word out about SVSU’s chapter of the organization so that students are aware of it and the opportunities it offers.

Meetings are held every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Pioneer Hall 216.

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