Girl Power in STEM: How ASU is breaking down gender and color barriers

With over 22,000 STEM majors on campus and a lack of female representation in the field, ASU has introduced a new center for women in STEM called the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology.

As of Jan. 11, Kimberly A. Scott of the School of Social Transformation led the launch of CGEST in order to engage the community and break down barriers that prevent women and minority females from pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Psychology and biology and society junior Megan Berry joined the CGEST team as a research assistant last January. Berry had a passion for science long before she got to ASU: She took an engineering class in high school, sparking her interest in a STEM-related major.

Berry gives credit to the CompuGirls program started by Scott, which gives young girls a chance to learn and apply skills for using the latest technologies with an emphasis in social justice. Berry is in the process of working with Scott and Patricia Garcia from CGEST on a paper about girl’s participation in STEM.

“We’re using data from past CompuGirls experiences and we’re seeing how these girls are interacting in a technology program like CompuGirls,” Berry said. “They (the girls) have so many different aspirations and it’s great to see how it’s come full circle.”

community_services_stem_bauerleffler_7
By J. Bauer-Leffler | The State Press

ASU will open a new center geared towards women of color in STEM to promote gender equality under the direction of Dr .Kimberly Scott in the Community Services building on Curry Road in Tempe pictured on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016

STEM Statistics
Create pie charts

For women and minority females nervous about pursuing STEM because of their identity, Berry’s advice is simple — speak up and stick with it.

“Don’t be afraid,” Berry said. “In most cases, girls don’t really speak out in science classes. Go for it and don’t be discouraged. Keep with it.”

Biochemistry sophomore Helen Mitiku likes the fact that ASU has decided to support this kind of center for STEM majors like herself.

“I think ASU has done a good job,” Mitiku said. “A lot of women think it’s already hard to be a science major. This is a program good for women to come together and overcome their struggles.”

Along with Scott, CGEST manager Gabriel Escontrías has helped develop the new center at ASU. He said he enjoys being part of something that helps other Sun Devils who might have a limited voice in their field.

“I think what stands out most to me is what we are looking to accomplish and just knowing how many girls we could empower and create an impact for,” Escontrías said. 

Megan Berry | Courtesy

Biochemistry sophomore Megan Berry speaks with German Cadenas at the opening of the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.


Related Links:

ASU joins Million Women Mentors Initiative, encourages women in STEM fields

ASU website serves as a mentor to women in STEM fields


Reach the reporter at sgreene6@asu.edu or follow @thesydneygreene on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.