Women in EMS increases membership by 40 percent

Members of the Women in Engineering, Mathematics and Science Program have increased in numbers by 40 percent throughout the program and 30 percent in engineering alone since 2010.
The WEMS program at University of Wisconsin-Platteville vision is to create a more diverse, competitive and balanced workforce, especially in programs that are traditionally more focused on men.
“Diversity is important in every field, and if women aren’t involved, issues important to women are left out,” said Tammy Salmon-Stephens, director of the Women in EMS Program and EMS Advising Office.
Increasing these numbers did not happen overnight. In 2006, a decline of women in the engineering, mathematics and science field was not only occurring in Platteville, but nationally as well. It was at this time that Salmon-Stephens, with the help of many other faulty members, came up with a strategy of what needed to be done in order to reverse this trend on campus. In 2007, planning went into effect in order to increase the number of females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at UW-Platteville. The committee wrote grants, talked to admissions staff and encouraged faculty to become more involved in STEM projects. They said they also wanted young women to become better educated on how women engineers are crucial to society.
“Things don’t change overnight,” Salmon-Stephens said. “This couldn’t have happened without a collaborative effort. It happens with a collective group who see the value.”
WEMS students and staff, EMS faculty members, Prospective Student Services, Advising and Career Exploration Services, Residence Life, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and other campus support services collaborated and contributed to make this increase successful.
Freshman engineering major Katie Chorley said she believes that the increase of women engineers is important for UW-Platteville.
“Engineering has been known as a male dominated field,” Chorley said. “With more women becoming interested in engineering, it would create more diversity and hopefully overcome the gender imbalances within this field.”
With several upcoming events that positively impact the program, WEMS members said they hope the program will continue to have bright future. These programs encourage young women in middle school through high school to engage in activities related to STEM.
Pioneering Your Future for sixth through eighth graders and Dreaming of the Sky for seventh and eighth graders will take place in March, and Exploring the Sky, designed for ninth and tenth graders, will take place in April. Hands-on activities and problem solving scenarios help to promote the kinds of skills important for STEM careers.
Markesha Parker, an industrial engineering major, is an assistant for WEMS and helps coordinate out-reach programs such as Sky’s the Limit, Pioneer Connections and the Luncheon Program.
“These programs help to empower young girls to excel in STEM fields, which are dominated by men,” Parker said. “We hope to support the young ladies to gain confidence in considering STEM majors when they attend college.”
Next semester, two living-learning communities will be located in Dobson for females in STEM. In fall 2012, the first LLC was started for freshmen women in STEM. Due to its success, a second community for sophomore women will be added to the freshman one.
These support programs will help women feel a sense of connectedness and give them the chance to live near other students in their field.