Eastern Washington University’s inaugural Eastern Edge community forum, “Women in STEM,” examined the lack of women in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math, and what can be done to change the narrative.
The Oct. 23 gathering drew a large crowd at a convention center ballroom in Spokane, and EWU used the opportunity to announce a major program to not only attract more female STEM majors, but to nurture them as well. Leslie Cornick, associate dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Eastern, says the “100 Women Strong” initiative will provide mentoring, scholarships and leadership development to help recruit and empower EWU women students.
The announcement comes at a time when STEM-related jobs are increasing nationwide, with industry experts acknowledging there is a shortage of female STEM students in the classrooms and in the field. Women earn less than 20 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering—two of the STEM fields with the largest growth potential.
“There is no reason women should not go into STEM,” said panelist Lisa Godsil, an EWU alumnae who now works as an engineer at Boeing. “I did not allow the fact I was a woman to diminish what I brought to the table.”
“Whenever you add women to a team, you add diversity. When you add diversity, you bring in interactions that will lead to greater creativity and innovation,” said panelist Rebecca Long, who earned a computer science degree at Eastern and now works as a DevOps engineer.
Godsil and Long were joined on the panel by recent EWU mechanical engineering graduate Shannon Kellam, and Vernice Keyes, an Eastern junior studying computer science. The group challenged the crowd to encourage young women to pursue math and science majors.
In addition to Cornick, the forum was moderated by Angela Jones, ’05, the new CEO of Washington STEM.
Eastern Edge is a series of community forums and roundtable discussions designed to showcase the work of EWU experts who are changing the way we think, learn and do—both inside and outside of the classroom. Eastern Edge events demonstrate how Eastern faculty, staff and alumni are powering our region through groundbreaking research, new approaches to teaching and learning, and powerful solutions to issues of concern in our community.