Oct 19, 2011
Wednesday evenings at 5:30, students gather together in East Nelson Hall classroom 115. They begin by introducing their name, major and a sexual organ or reference that begins with the first letter of their name. That’s one of the strategies the Society of Women in Math and Sciences (SWIMS) use to learn each other’s names and begin their weekly club meetings.
“Its nice to have other women to talk to about science, not just guys,” said Janell Rivera, club member and senior Cellular Molecular Biology major. Rivera, as well as the other members of the club, joined to be able to network with students who share their common interests: math and science.
“Females in the math and science fields are the up and coming powerful moving force,” said club member Hadasa Villalobos. “We are the ones making the changes.” Members discuss with each other how women working in the fields used to be rare. Nowadays, more women are embracing the field.
Friday, Oct. 7, the club had its first conference, The Woman’s Perspective, about the challenging aspects of being a woman in the math and science fields. Professors Amy Sprowles, Bori Mazzag and Roxann Schroeder spoke at the presentation. Sprowles has experienced the gender gap first hand in her graduate school. “There was only five female tenured faculty compared to 100 males,” Sprowles said.
In her presentation, Sprowles focused on the balance of family life and her career. “There has been many changes in both academics and society that support women in and outside the home,” she said. “But, that doesn’t mean everything has been solved and it’s still not a challenge for women to have a family and a very productive scientific career.”
“If I would like to see a change in the fields, then I have to be a part of the change,” said Villalobos. “Women know what women want.”
Despite being a new club, created last semester, its members have a lot planned to bring more awareness and encouragement to students in these fields. “This semester is really focused on how to get our ideas done,” said senior Ana Parra. They plan to do more community service events, conferences with national guest speakers, academic workshops on research and graduate school, homework “date nights” and club retreats.
The students went on their first club retreat Oct. 15 and 16, to Redwood & Rivers at Big Bar. Early Saturday morning they met at Library Circle, piled into cars and drove down to Redwood & Rivers to go white water rafting and camp for the night.
“I hoped that we could use this time (at the retreat) for club members to get to know each other better and enjoy the refreshing outdoors,” Villalobos said. In between bonding, the women studied for upcoming midterms and helped Redwood & Rivers with work around the site.
The club is currently looking for a network coordinator and is also open to both females and males who are interested in supporting women in math and science. “Everyone is welcome at anytime of the semester,” said Erika Gaeta, senior Wildlife major.
Students interested in becoming a member of the club can email SWiMS@humboldt.edu or stop by a meeting every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in East Nelson Hall 115.