Women in Engineering Week Empowers Women in STEM

November 18, 2019

Fantastic Lego Ladies

The Fantastic Lego Ladies displayed their robots and interacted with COE students to see successful women pursuing engineering.

Women in Engineering Week is a celebration of female accomplishments in STEM, empowering students through awareness and education.

Each semester the College of Engineering hosts a week in honor of women in engineering with events to have open discussions and motivate students.

The College kicked off WIE Week Nov. 11 with a visit with the Fantastic Lego Ladies, an all-female FIRST Lego Robotics team of fifth through eighth graders here in Columbia, Missouri.

The ladies displayed their robots and interacted with COE students to see successful women pursuing engineering.

Fantasitic Lego Ladies

The Fantastic Lego Ladies pause for a group photo.

Hilary Mueller, the director of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives for the College, said that’s what makes WIE Week so important: creating visibility for females in engineering.

“Being able to see yourself in a space, being able to see people who you connect with or share similar experiences with succeeding, that inspires people,” Muller said. “And creating intentional spaces where we can show those stories, and we can provide those connections for folks, that’s what really helps with retention.”

The week also consisted of presentations and workshops to provide resources and spaces to talk about not only the accomplishments of female COE students, but also some of the gender disparities in STEM.

For example, women are more likely to apply for jobs if they meet 100 percent of the requirements whereas men are more likely to apply meeting only 60 percent.

The #IamRemarkable Workshop, an initiative by Google, focused on breaking these modesty norms by teaching students how to self-promote effectively in social and professional settings.

Rounding out the events was a lunch panel discussion with the seven students who attended the Grace Hopper Celebration conference— the world’s largest gathering of female technologists.

Grace Hopper panel

MU Engineering students Samira Shamsir, Omiya Hassan, Samantha Sample, Jasmine Tan, Carter Landis, Sophie Nedelco and Paul Orton participate in a panel discussion at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida.

Students answered questions and spoke about what they learned surrounded by 28,000 other engineers with the same mission of increasing equity.

The conference, held from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4 in Orlando, FL, provided tech workshop sessions, keynote speakers, a career fair and networking events.

Samantha Sample, a junior in computer science, said the panel was a great opportunity to share with other students the valuable experience she had at Grace Hopper.

“It is a vessel for relaying to the entire student body just how much opportunity is out there in the world for women in technology,” she said. “We’re able to go out and have these experiences and see all these people, and we can come back to the College and bring that experience with us to share with the people around us.”