#stemHERstoryRU exposes Rutgers community to women in science, mathematics fields
Scattered around the University are posters of students posing with whiteboards explaining why they are pursuing science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degrees.
#stemHERstoryRU is a Rutgers-based movement to raise awareness about women in STEM, said Anjali Jothi, a School of Engineering first-year student.
Busch Campus Partners sponsored this campaign to encourage women to “take a chance” and pursue careers in STEM, said Maithri Mathew, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
The campaign encourages University students, teenage girls and late adolescent-year girls to pursue STEM careers, said Alexa Herrera, a School of Engineering first-year student.
“Up until now, those careers have been mostly dominated by males,” Herrera said. “(The movement's) purpose is to show the general public that girls are capable of pursuing any career that they desire, and that girls have the potential to change the world.”
There have been very few events similar to #stemHERstoryRU, if any, that promote women in STEM, said Rebecca Ng, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
So far, the campaign has set up photo booths around campus where students can write why they are an ally to the movement or why they are in STEM, Mathew said. These photos are posted on social media and around campus centers. The campaign has also created a promotional video.
“These are small steps, but I believe that over time, and with more support, we can branch out to high schools and middle schools and show them how Rutgers women do STEM,” Mathew said.
Ng said she wears a “#stemHERstoryRU” button on her backpack to make it known that she is a woman in STEM.
While the movement is “in its infancy right now,” some further developments to the campaign include a "Humans of New York" style of photo and interview session, as well as a monthly spotlight on women in STEM or who are changing the world, Jothi said.
Although the movement is young right now, it has a lot of promise, Jothi said.
The ongoing event has made the Rutgers community “more conscious” of women pursuing STEM careers, Ng said.
“With the support of the Rutgers community, women have the confidence to pursue these fields,” she said.
The campaign has created solidarity among STEM majors at the University, Mathew said. Participating as a photographer at one of the photo booths affirmed her love for STEM and importance of representation. She was particularly inspired by witnessing people’s stories.
“I think being able to see yourself or your friends (either online or in-person) serves as a constant reminder that someday, girls won’t be told to ‘sit pretty,’" Mathew said. “Rather, (they’ll) work on projects, get interested in science or even just geek out over math because it’s fun.”
Women all around campus, not only those who participated in the photo sessions, have acknowledged the movement, said Malay Shah, a School of Engineering first-year student.
“There is no reason to feel lonely anymore,” Ng said.
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @Hasanabanana for more.