KSU works to increase number of women in STEM fields (Marietta Daily Journal)
"Scientista" recruitment event draws area high schoolers to campus
By MaryKate McGowan
MARIETTA — Kennesaw State University hosted a recruiting event Monday to increase the number of women majoring in science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — fields.
Women make up about 29 percent of the number of KSU students who major in STEM fields, according to the university.
Over the past five school years, the number of women majoring in STEM fields at KSU has increased by more than 1,000 students from 2,391 in fall of 2012 to 3,456 this past fall, according to KSU.
STEM majors include engineering, statistics and chemistry.
More than 60 female high school students attended the “Scientista” recruitment event, including Kennesaw Mountain High School sophomore Joi Butler, who wants to be an engineer.
The event allowed the girls to see themselves as capable of pursuing STEM majors through participating in lectures and hands-on activities, said Renee Butler, the assistant dean for the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at KSU.
Butler said having more women in STEM careers benefits everyone as women address issues and projects with different perspectives, priorities and experiences.
“Having more diverse groups work on problems leads to better solutions,” she said.
Joi, 15, said more girls should pursue STEM majors and careers because they tend to think more outside-of-the-box than men.
“Sometimes women don’t really think about the box. They think about different shapes outside the box,” she said. The event included a student panel of KSU female students majoring in STEM fields and a panel of women who work in STEM careers, including Lisa Olens, who works in the business development sector of Georgia Power. She is also married to KSU President Sam Olens.
During a Cobb Legislative Delegation meeting in December, Sam Olens said KSU’s Marietta campus — the former Southern Polytechnic State University — has a shortage of female students and faculty. Olens said KSU needs to create a welcoming environment by increasing the number of female students on the STEMheavy Marietta campus. He said a female high school student walking on that campus who hardly sees any women is more likely to go to another institution.
Monday, the prospective students were also broken into groups based on the major they are interested in pursuing. Those interested in majoring in chemistry and biology participated in an interactive lecture about the flu virus, and potential engineers — including Joi — created water filtration systems with water bottles and sand.
KSU students were also on hand to answer the younger girls’ questions.
One of those students, biology major Bening Hellriegel, said talking with an older student would have helped her decide on her major and career path sooner, so she volunteered to help the younger students.