November 2, 2022
Despite the progress made over the past decades to encourage more women to pursue studies in STEM fields, implicit gender biases and stereotypes still exist today, and the STEM field is still overrepresented by men.
Women in Science, Engineering and Research at Oakland University (OUWISER) — an organization focused on improving the campus climate and supporting OU faculty — is hosting a Hybrid Luncheon on Nov. 7 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The panel will consist of three OU professors. from different STEM fields: Dr. Sarah Beetham, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Elizabeth Delorme-Axford, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and Dr. Lisa Welling, Ph.D. ( associate professor of psychology).
Each panelist briefly shared their studies and thoughts on stereotyping against women in STEM.
Dr. Sarah Beetham, Ph.D.
In addition to his background in mechanical engineering and scientific computing, Beetham’s specific area of interest is the understanding and prediction of complex fluid flows relevant to society and the environment (e.g. volcanic eruptions or the conversion agricultural waste into biofuel). At OU she teaches “Intro to Heat and Fluid Flow” (ME3500), “Intermediate Fluid Mechanics” (ME4515/5515) and “Computational Fluid Dynamics” (ME5510).
“Growing up, I was always very curious and loved math and science. When I was in middle school, my parents approached my teacher about advanced math and he said, “Why will she need algebra?” It happened 25 years ago, but I think about it a lot even now. It’s heartbreaking that this happened in the first place, but even more so that it surely happens to girls whose parents may not know how to defend them like mine did.
“In my view, the low representation of women is due to a few key factors: First, when girls don’t see female role models in STEM fields (in their personal lives, in the media, in popular culture), it’s more difficult to imagine themselves in these roles. Then, encouragement is absolutely essential. I think that girls are often less encouraged than boys to pursue studies in STEM fields, even when they have an affinity or an interest in math and science Finally, I think STEM fields need a public relations overhaul.
Dr. Lisa Welling, Ph.D.
As a psychologist, Welling studies human mate choice with a particular focus on hormonal mechanisms. She is particularly interested in romantic and sexual relationships, and how these relationships are affected by our hormonal profile.
At OU, she teaches “Research Methods and Human Sexuality” at the undergraduate level and “Human Sexuality, Hormones and Behaviour” at the graduate level.
“Girls learn to believe these stereotypes, so intervention is needed early on. Additionally, it is unfortunately still true these days that scientific fields are often more hostile to women because they are more likely to have additional family responsibilities that STEM careers are less likely to accommodate. This unfortunate lack of support leads many women to leave STEM professions when they become or plan to become mothers.
“Science is best when people from diverse backgrounds and experiences work together. Different perspectives are extremely valuable in advancing scientific knowledge. If women and minorities are not part of the conversation, we all lose. I hope you will join us to discuss our experiences and yours.
Dr. Elizabeth Delorme-Axford, Ph.D.
Delorme-Axford’s research study sits at the intersection of biochemistry and molecular cell biology, focusing specifically on autophagy – a cellular pathway of molecular degradation and recycling. This semester, she is teaching “Biochemistry I” (BIO 3232).
“One of the main reasons I’m in STEM is because I love being in the lab, doing research, and interacting with students. It’s important to have mentors who support you at every stage of your career. .
“One of the primary goals of my lab is to foster a team environment that promotes equity and inclusion among members. In my biochemistry course, I highlight important discoveries made by different and diverse scientists, including women. Hopefully this encourages students from all walks of life to join STEM. »
This hybrid luncheon will take place both in person in the Founders Ballroom C West on the top floor of the Oakland Center and via Zoom. Panelists will discuss in more detail the challenges they faced and their journey to becoming STEM teachers.
The panel is free and open to all students in all fields. Interested students can reserve their places by completing this form.
“I truly believe that for the culture to change enough to foster a more equitable number of women in STEM, we need male allies to step in and help make that change,” Beetham said. “If you’re a man in STEM and you see bias happening, say something!
“Even very small things help,” Beetham continued. “If the only woman on your team is constantly tasked with being the social event planner or meeting note taker, point that out and offer to do those tasks instead. It’s the little things that make a big difference. »