STEM open house enlists tech-savvy women

Nestled beneath the trees near the Computer Science Building, about 50 students, faculty and community members gathered outside for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Open House Thursday, Sept. 7, sponsored by the College of Technology and Computing and Women in Technology. The open house was held for female students pursuing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to learn more about the benefits of careers in these areas.

Dr. Cheryl Hanewicz, technology management department chair, spearheaded the event where students had an opportunity to meet professors who showed support for graduates within the STEM areas.

“There’s not a lot of women in the fields, but these are the high-paying fields,” Hanewicz said. “Diversity in the work field is so important for a number of reasons, but one more practical reason is the ‘2020 plan.’ [The Utah System of Higher Education] is trying to get 66 percent of Utahns to have a certificate or higher by the year 2020, and we’re not going to do that without getting more women into both college and in the STEM fields.”

In 2010, the Utah Board of Regents and former Commissioner of Higher Education initiated a goal that 66 percent of men and women, ages 25-64, will have earned a bachelor’s degree or certificate by 2020 in an effort to increase higher education completion rates in the state of Utah.

Lynne Yocom, a recent UVU graduate in information systems, works for the Utah Department of Transportation as an ITS Fiber Optics Manager. Yocom began her career with UDOT before she graduated from UVU. She came to the event to support female students working towards technology careers.

“Women bring different perspectives to different projects that you handle,” Yocom said. “We bring in diversity. There’s not enough diversity if you don’t have enough women-to-men ratio for a project. We look at things differently, and that’s a strength to an organization.”

Beth Ipson, a major in digital media with emphases in gaming and animation, said she came to the event to learn what networking opportunities were available for students like her. Ipson said her classes often lack female students.

“All I see are guys in my major,” Ipson said. “When I walk in the first day of class, I’m always excited when there’s one other girl and I go sit by her.”

Sharesa Wight, a digital media major with emphases in Internet technologies, attended the STEM Open House and said she has known what she wanted to major in since high school. Wight said she is eager to move forward in her career.

“I came to get ideas about where to get jobs and internships. All I’ve ever done are receptionist jobs and I want to dig into something more in the field,” Wight said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for computer systems design is expected to increase by 47 percent, stemming from a growing demand for network and mobile technologies.

For more information about the College of Technology and Computing, visit adviser offices in CS 635.

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