Empowering Women in STEM: Hope College Leading the Way

During last Thursday’s community hour, WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) got together to discuss work, life, and school while being women in STEM. Many students and professors came to this event in order to ask questions and seek community. 

According to its website, “WiSE is a female-led organization, founded on faith, focused on unifying and empowering diverse women in pursuit of careers within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” The organization hosts events each semester that include both educational and social events designed to support, encourage, and unite women in the Hope College STEM community. 

During last Thursday’s event, biochemistry professor Dr. Kristeen Dittenhafer-Reed and chemistry professor Dr. Meagan Elinski spoke on their experiences as women within the STEM field. As they spoke about being women in STEM, the speakers focused specifically on navigating graduate school, balancing family life, and combating biases in the field. They also emphasized the importance of mentorship. Dr. Dittenhafer-Reed and Dr. Elinskitold told the audience that having a mentor who has gone through similar systems, programs, and experiences offers encouragement and support for females as they become the next generation of women in STEM. 

“Representation is so important. Historically, STEM fields have been very male-dominated. Through creating community and encouraging young women, we can offset some imbalances between men and women in science fields,” states Rachel Thomas, a Hope College junior majoring in neuroscience.

Rachel emphasized the female students in STEM having a passion for these subjects due to the various ways in which these areas significantly impact the surrounding world. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are all areas that are continually evolving and shaping our world into a better place. 

Charlotte Turner (‘24), a biology major at Hope stated, “Women in STEM should be talked about and one must advocate for themselves and others so we can all learn as a society and achieve the best efforts.” 

WiSE facilitates this type of conversation and advocates, encourages, and creates a community for women in STEM. As Hope strives to be an increasingly inclusive and uplifting environment, the college is taking steps to uplift those who need to be strengthened. Female STEM students at Hope are committed to participating in the mechanics of this world and seek to contribute their unique skills to this pursuit. 

After speaking to another female junior student at Hope studying biology, she stated “This passion for science brings beauty. I see it in all my classes and every day and I want to be a part of it.”

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