How SWE Encourages Girls’ Early Interest in STEM
SWE President Colleen Layman discusses the effects of young girls’ ebbing interest in science and math, the programs SWE offers females at every life stage, and the responsibility we have to raise up future generations to assume gender-neutrality in STEM.
By Alexandra Leslie, Tech Vertical Manager, Digital Brands Inc.
SWE FY16 President Colleen Layman on the Importance of STEM Female Role Models & The Future of Gender Neutrality
“Middle school is where we lose them,” Colleen Layman said, addressing the plateaued interest of young girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. As the President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Colleen shared her personal experience joining the organization that’s brought mentorship, professional opportunities, role-modeling, and friendship to thousands of women in male-dominated industries since 1950.
During the first SWE meeting that Colleen attended, the group announced an upcoming opportunity to visit Dorney Park after hours, ride the rides without lines, and learn about their engineering. “Who doesn’t want to join an organization that offers a behind-the-scenes tour of a theme park?” Colleen said, laughingly. “I joined, became very close with a lot of the women, and ended up staying for the friendships and the mentorship opportunities.”
“What got me into SWE was that first initial meeting with those women, but what keeps me and what I see as the greatest benefit of our organization is the female mentorship.” She told us that mentorship, role-modeling, and “reverse mentorship” are among the core values of SWE. “Female role models are the most important thing for young women.”