Presentation in March discussed women in STEM fields

Hunter Turpin, Staff Writer

Madison College manufacturing instructor Theresa Valencia knows exactly how female students in STEM fields can feel.

“It’s quite uncomfortable for a woman to walk into a classroom filled with male students and taught by a man, that’s what we’re trying to change, we want to create a comfortable and safe environment for women that are breaking barriers and pursuing STEM careers,” said Valencia, describing the issues facing women in STEM and how she wishes to combat them.

Valencia was one of several participants in a March 10 presentation at Madison College featuring Open World delegates from Russia and faculty members from the college discussing women in STEM careers and how they are working to encourage their aspiration.

The event consisted of five speakers from across Russia who were members of both the Open World delegation, which is an exchange program between the U.S. and former Soviet nations (, and the Federation of Women with Higher Education. There were four speakers from the college that consisted of instructors and deans in the STEM department.

“We want to provide a place for both sides to explain what they have been doing to encourage more girls and women to become involved in STEM education and, of course, allow for open discussion between everyone,” said International Education Dean Dr. Geoffrey Bradshaw, while introducing the event.

The guest speakers presented first, aided by a translator. They spoke to their attempts to bring more equality to the field. These include increasing awareness of current women in college, immersing younger girls in STEM activities, summer camps for children and technology parks.

“Many girls are encouraged to go into humanities when they pursue higher education, but we want to equip them with the knowledge to choose STEM careers if they want,” said a presenter.

Similarly, the Madison College speakers spoke to methods being implemented here to encourage women in STEM education and how to make them more at ease during instruction, ranging from program admittance to classroom activities.