Providing STEM Opportunities to Women
School of Computer Science & Math Encourages Exploration and Excellence
STEM, otherwise known as “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” is used to describe technical fields that are short-staffed in America. Schools at all levels are not teaching a sufficient amount of students about STEM disciplines. Within that small group is an even smaller group: women.
The School of Computer Science & Mathematics at Marist strives to include more women in STEM classes. This reflects the issue of including women in technical careers. The percentage of women in computer science has decreased from 35% in 1990 to 26% today. In engineering, women make up only 12% of the workforce. They are underrepresented in the technology/computer science professions and Marist is trying to do their part in fixing that.
According to Mary Ann Hoffmann, Assistant Dean of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Silicon Valley firms are deliberately trying to hire women technologists into software companies because they realize that women bring a new perspective to the software products that the companies are creating. “There are a lot of opportunities for women to contribute to society, gain personal satisfaction, and grow in their careers,” she said. “These are high-paying fields and women who enter them do very well, but we need to have many more women in these fields. We are not graduating enough STEM students and jobs are going unfilled - or are being offered to students from other nations.”
Much of Hoffmann’s role at Marist has been dedicated to improving the enrollment of STEM disciplines. She cites four main reasons as to why any student, male or female, would excel at computer science or information technology at Marist: The first are the professors, who have significant experience in teaching and computer industry. The school also has access to the latest hardware and software and networking equipment so students can get hands-on experience. The third reason is that the National Science Foundation has recognized Marist with several grants in computer science and cyber security. New York State also designated the school as a Center of Competence in Cloud Computing and Analytics and as a result, they funded Marist to purchase high-end computer equipment. The fourth and final reason why Marist is a place for success is the internship and research opportunities that it provides for its students. Students in the past have interned for IBM, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, USAA, and other Fortune 500 firms. In regards to research opportunities, students have been involved in cyber security, data analytics, cognitive computing, and more.
Professor Christopher Algozzine, Professional Lecturer of Computer Science at Marist, has also noticed a steady decline of female enrollment in computer science since the 1990s. However, Algozzine is starting to see an increase in “very bright” young women interested in computer science because of its many diverse applications including analyzing and solving issues pertaining to healthcare, energy, and poverty and improving educational opportunities in developing countries. He sees the women studying STEM at Marist are those that are not to be “pigeon-holed into one type of student” but that they all have a desire to succeed, be a part of something that helps others, and definitely want to do meaningful work with their STEM skills.”
Algozzine values the diverse views, opinions, and ideas that women bring to STEM. “They need to know that they makes a difference and they need to know that and hear that now while they are in college so they can stand up and declare it when they get into the work environment.”
There are many events held each year to interest young women in STEM, which include:
- AAUW http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/stem-education/
- New York Celebration of Women in Computing http://nycwic.acm.org/ Dr. Carolyn Matheus will be taking five Marist CS/IT majors to this conference in April
- Girls Who Code runs a Summer Immersion program http://girlswhocode.com/programs/
- And IBM recently hosted an event for STEM women see http://www.marist.edu/compscimath/marist-stem-girls-night-event.html
Written by Adriana Belmonte '17
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