March, Women’s History Month: STEM Careers Closing the Gap

(ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN 2014 MARCH EDITION)

By JULIA HAND Campus Press Columnist

March is Women’s History Month, and as you may know, the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are dominated primarily by males. However, there are a few outstanding women in the field that deserve to be recognized for being among the few who break the glass ceiling.

For example, Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Antonia Novello was the first female Surgeon General of the United States. These brave women have made history, and have inspired others to do the same.  Karen Purcell, founder, owner and president of an award -winning electrical engineering, design and consulting firm and author of the book Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, celebrates her predecessors’ great contributions to STEM, but hopes to see current STEM leaders, including herself, continue to close the gender gap.”

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Throughout history, women have achieved tremendous accomplishments in the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields,” says Purcell. “Women worked on the Manhattan Project, contributed to our understanding of DNA, discovered radium, and helped design and build the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to mastering difficult subjects and techniques of experimentation, however, these women also had to overcome the obstacle of a bias against their participation in and restricted access to STEM disciplines. Although that hurdle is less overt today, biases and restrictions still prevent women from choosing STEM career paths in large numbers.”

Every historically significant woman has started somewhere, and there are many women currently enrolled in Camden County College in STEM fields, fighting those biases. One female nursing major at the Blackwood campus, Courtney Piech, feels grateful that she is free to pursue the education and career that she has a passion for. “If it weren’t for the headstrong, progressive women before me,” Piech marveled, “I may not be able to use my abilities to help others as a nurse. Their actions indirectly influence the lives of all of my future patients.”

Female STEM students are the next, and hopefully the last, generation of closing the unnecessary gender gap that women face daily.

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