The Goshen College Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) club is seeking to boost activity and membership this semester after a hiatus last year.

Women in STEM club makes a comeback

The club is currently led by three students: Ainslee Zou, a senior biochemistry and music double major; Gretta Rempel, a junior biology major; and Lauren Murphy, a sophomore biology major. 

Zou says that the mission of Women in STEM is “to promote growth in an inclusive, supportive and trusted environment for diverse and underrepresented voices in the [STEM] community.” 

“Our main goal is inclusion,” Zou said. “So even though we are the ‘Women in STEM’ group, we want to champion all underrepresented voices, because we want to make sure that STEM is an inclusive environment for all people.”

The club was formed in 2016 when two female students of Jody Saylor, associate professor of biology and the Women in STEM faculty advisor, noticed that women in science were having “a different experience than the men students were.” 

“They just felt like they needed a place to be able to talk together, support each other, encourage each other,” Saylor said. “So [they] decided… to start a club and have a place for female students to gather.” 

Throughout the first few years of Women in STEM, members held meetings to talk about their career goals and experiences in STEM classes. However, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 brought club meetings to a halt, resulting in a hiatus that extended through the spring of 2021. 

“[The club] sort of dwindled away due to COVID-19,” Zou said. “And so I talked to Jody last year, [saying] hey, Jody, Women in STEM is something that I’m very passionate about, and I was wondering if we could get this club started again.” 

Zou and Saylor began working with Rempel and Murphy to plan club activities, drawing up a schedule for weekly study meetings called “study tables.”

“Those are open for anyone to come,” Zou said. “The goal is that you have a community… you may run into people who have taken a class before, so you may be able to ask them about a certain concept. And also just to foster community and say, hey, we’re all working on STEM together.” 

“Study tables isn’t necessarily only for working on your own things,” Rempel said. “If you need help with an assignment or don’t understand a concept, that’s also what it’s for.” 

Other Women in STEM activities are in the works as well. Students can be on the lookout for an upcoming club social event; Saylor notes that posters and Communicator announcements detailing the event will be posted soon. The club leaders are also planning to invite several guest speakers to present, and Rempel is hoping to introduce an open “forum or discussion” space. 

“Students could share experiences that they’ve had in the STEM field at Goshen,” she said. “A place where we could reflect on that, see how Goshen College could do better in those areas.” 

Saylor wants to encourage all students to attend events like these and to get involved in Women in STEM in any way they can.

“Science is for everyone and anyone,” she said. “We just think that the more diverse voices, experiences and people that we have doing science… science can only get better. It can only do more and help more.”