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WIU Promoting STEM Programs For Female Students

Frannie Smith TSPR

Some faculty members at Western Illinois University feel there's been a decline in female students studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  So they're working to create an initiative with the College of Arts and Science to provide scholarships, mentoring opportunities, and travel grants to such students.

Department of Chemistry Chair Rose McConnell said many female students who start out studying STEM subjects ultimately change their major. She believes they simply need more encouragement.

"I know how it is, so I want to support the efforts of students at this point and make it easier for them," McConnell said. She said she studied science during an era in which she was often the only woman in the class.

McConnell said the problem is not confined to WIU.  She said it's a national issue caused in part by the lack of women in upper management positions at higher levels in science.

She said there is a national initiative that encourages women to pursue careers in STEM fields. It's organized by the Association of Women in Science, or AWIS.