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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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WISE Luncheon 2015

Students and faculty gathered last Wednesday to celebrate women in science and engineering.

2015-03-02

This last Wednesday, February 25th, CSET Advising hosted a Women in Science and Engineering Luncheon, which will become an annual event. Over 100 women were in attendance. This event is meant to encourage women studying STEM fields here at Minnesota State Mankato to network across disciplines. The event also hosted to speakers, interim Associate Dean Marilyn Hart and Farche Wilcox, a pilot plant manager at 3M.

Dr. Hart gave a rousing speech about gender imbalance in STEM fields and provided excellent advice to young women studying STEM disciplines and entering the professional world:

Tyfanny, a young South African girl, exchanged several letters with Albert Einstein. In one of her letters, she felt the need to explain herself, “I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact.”

Einstein replied, “I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.”

According to Dr. Hart, Einstein’s reply to Tyffany is one that all women in STEM must keep in mind. Women in science have chosen a challenging path, but it is one that is surely rewarding.

There is an incredibly gender imbalance in STEM fields. Only 26% of science workers are women. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that 66% of 4th grade girls like STEM, but only 18% of STEM majors are women. What happens in those eight critical years that lowers that academic interest so seriously?

Dr. Hart provides 5 points of advice for women in STEM:

  • Build relationships – support from peers and colleagues is invaluable. This is the beginning of a strong network.
  • Be advocates for one another. This is a sisterhood. There are unique challenges for women in science and engineering – have each other’s backs.
  • Never self exclude. Get in the game!
  • Fight for equality. Women make only 78% of the wages that men do. Equal pay legislature was recently shot down – the fight isn’t over, and not only for equal pay.
  • Lastly, Dr. Hart urges women in STEM to get a mentor. Search for someone who has what you want, that you admire. Women form networks in order to excel. “Life is a labyrinth,” Dr. Hart says, and mentor helps navigate that labyrinth.

Farche Wilcox is currently a pilot plant manager at 3M in their personal safety division. She’s also worked as a manufacturing engineer, a process engineer, and a project management engineer. Wilcox earned her degree in chemical engineering from Texas A & M in 1997.

Guest Speaker, Farche WilcoxWilcox urged women to “Be yourself!” both in the workplace and in life. “We’re women and we’re wonderfully made.” She gave 3 points of advice:

Firstly, women should work to listen effectively, to genuinely hear what others say. It is important to know when to get into the conversation and when to listen.

Secondly, Wilcox advocates the importance of diversifying oneself as a person – to become complete individuals. Hobbies, volunteerism, and workplace experience all challenge and develop a person, and they are an excellent draw for employers. What do you bring to the workplace? Don’t just be a hard-worker,be a hard-worker with evidence to back that up.

Finally, Wilcox says to nurture yourself as a person and your relationships, both work and personal. Relationships often fall by the wayside because of work. Take time to maintain personal relationships and to reach out to colleagues.

In closing, women are embarking into opportunity.

As Wilcox claims, women are embarking into opportunity, and this luncheon certainly was one. 

For MSU events: individuals with a disability, who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event, are asked to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources at 507-389-2825 (V/TTD), 800-627-3529 or 711 (MRS/TTD) at least five days prior to the event.

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