Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) is a student organization at Hope College created for women pursuing an education and career in STEM, a common acronym referring to science, technology, engineering and math. Female-led and attended, WiSE strives to create a community that empowers and encourages women in STEM through planned events and volunteer opportunities.
Megan Lopez (’22), a senior at Hope, has been attending WiSE since her freshman year and now serves as a board member. She plans to attend graduate school after Hope with the goal of becoming a physician. She described the purpose of WiSE as a place to “build community and relationships among women in STEM because it can be a very difficult career path for any woman.”
WiSE provides a fun and safe community for women in STEM to experience empowerment and collaboration in their career goals. Gracielynn Hill (’24) joined WiSE her freshman year and now serves as the secretary of the organization. She mainly works on building ideas, planning events and sending out emails.
Historically, STEM professions are male-dominated, which can cause women to feel isolated and disconnected. “We were put into labs in an intro class and there was only one other girl. I felt very isolated at that time,” Hill explained. “But when I joined a group of girls that are just like me, who worked together to encourage more girls to come into STEM, I just felt a better purpose.”
Hill is not alone in this. Because of WiSE, she is able to feel understood by other women through their mutual community. As Lopez put it, “There is a bond that is created among shared experiences.”
When asked about the challenges in pursuing a career in STEM, Lopez shared that if you experience prejudice or discrimination because you are a woman, there are not always people who are willing to hear or help you. She went on to emphasize that she “doesn’t want anyone to feel like they are alone or isolated just because they are pursuing something they’re passionate about.”
Lopez found support and hope by surrounding herself with the women in WiSE. She said, “Seeing my female peers excelling in their fields and knowing that there are a lot of women in STEM here that are very successful gives me hope that problems faced in the past will continue to get better and not happen to women in the future.”
Throughout the school year, WiSE meets on a monthly basis for both fun and professional events. The women gain community through events like brunches and movie nights, but there are also volunteer opportunities and discussion panels that cultivate learning and leadership.
WiSE doesn’t only hope for a better future for women in STEM, but they actively pursue it. They have taken part in outreach programs and volunteer opportunities in the community. Last year, WiSE spent a day with the local Girl Scouts. According to Hill, they had a science-themed day in which they “worked with a huge group of girls, of all different ages, and worked on STEM-based activities.”
Having attended WiSE for the last four years, Lopez claims that it is one of the bigger clubs on campus. “Our events are very well attended, and we have a lot of women who participate,” Lopez explained, “It makes me happy to see there are so many of us and that soon, we won’t really be a minority in the science fields.”
If you are a woman in STEM, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in WiSE.