When Rebstock Hall was built in 1927 on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, it did not have any women’s restrooms. Why would it? The building served the biology department, and biology was for boys.
Two high school students participate in a design challenge at the 2015 Women in Engineering Day. Organizers have changed the name of the event to Women in STEM Day. (Photo: Courtesy of Mary Richardson)
Some 90 years later, women study the biological sciences at a higher rate than men. Still, when it comes to many STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), the gender gap persists.
“There is a ‘bro code’ that is hard for women to bust through,” said Amritha Gourisankar, a junior in biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “The challenges for female scientists are real. But the opportunities and rewards are real, too.”
Gourisankar and Connie Gan, a junior in biology and mathematics, both in Arts & Sciences, will share those opportunities with female high school students at Women in STEM Day Saturday, Feb. 27, at Washington University.
The event will showcase cutting-edge science and top speakers. Highlights include a chemistry flame test, a 3-D printing demonstration, an introduction to environmental nanochemistry and a competition to build an “earthquake-proof” structure from uncooked spaghetti, coffee stirrers, Play-Doh and other materials. Some 125 young women from across the St. Louis region are registered to attend.
“We show them the entire spectrum,” Gan said. “They learn not only about STEM majors, but all of the opportunities to further pursue their passions outside of class.”
The event was formerly known as Women in Engineering Day, but organizers changed the name to reach a wider audience. Also, many students don’t know that they are interested in engineering until they see it.
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