Serving the Tarrant County College District

The Collegian

Serving the Tarrant County College District

The Collegian

Serving the Tarrant County College District

The Collegian

Faculty inspire women to pursue STEM careers

Ruth Gallardo has always been interested in science. However, the NE student decided to pursue art when she registered for classes.

Her reasoning – not feeling confident in math.

“Math has always been one of those things where I’m like, ‘I’m just not good at it,’” she said.

Within the last six months, Gallardo has taken biology courses that have caused her to reconsider her hesitations. She’s had super engaging professors that seem to really care about what they’re teaching, and to top things off, they’ve all been women, she said.

“It just reminded me that I can do it if I want to,” she said.

Based on the CNBC article, ‘I don’t think I would be good at it’: Gen Z girls far less likely than boys to feel they belong in STEM,’ Gallardo would be outnumbered.

Despite Gen Z boys and girls learning the same curriculum, 85% of boys are likely to say they’re interested in STEM topics while only 63% of girls were, according to a survey from Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation.

Debra Scheiwe, NE assistant professor of biology, is used to hearing female students during lab say they’re not good at math, have never been good at it and hate it.

To close the gender gap, Scheiwe thinks it’s important to expose all young children to all the possibilities, she said.

Schewie has sons, but now that she has a granddaughter, she loves taking her to science museums.

“Little girls should grow up with this mindset of ‘If I’m looking up at the moon, I should go,’” she said.

“But if no one takes them to NASA or checks science books out of the library then how would they know it’s a possibility?”

Schewie didn’t come from a background where those close to her had attended college, she said. Her mother suffered from a mental illness, and she had obligations to her siblings.

However, one middle school science teacher saw something in her, and encouraged her love for science.

“It was because of her that I took AP classes in high school, looked into college and considered science as a career,” Schewie said.

Kimberly Campbell, NE math instructor, also felt supported growing up when it came to developing her interest and skill set for math.

“I was lucky,” Campbell said. “I had a father who was a builder and welder, and he always included me in the things he did, which included a lot of hands-on math.”

Campbell also had a lot of female math teachers in her life who weren’t disinterested or ineffective, she said.

“Just an interesting thing to note, 11 out of 19 of our full-time math faculty are fe- male, so almost 60%,” she said.

Gallardo thinks that oftentimes, girls saying they’re not good at math is a self- fulfilling prophecy.

“If you decide you’re not good at math then you’re not going to try to be good at math, so you’ll never get better,” she said.

Gallardo advises students to shift their mindset so they’re open to trying.

“I may not be good at math, but I’m going to try and work at it because my passion is in the STEM field,” she said.

Women may feel like they need to be the best at something to be taken seriously, but Gallardo wants girls interested in STEM to know that it’s OK to not be at the level of Albert Einstein, she said.

“You just have to be willing to have set backs and make mistakes, but you learn from them,” she said with a smile.

“Sometimes it can be embarrassing and stressful, but you really do just learn from it.”

Having a support system is an important aspect of building confidence to pursue a career in STEM. Gallardo is grateful for her parents’ attitude about her switch from arts to science, she said.

“My mom was like, ‘What do we need to do to get you to that point?’ because they just want to see me succeed,’ she said. “They just want me to be happy and fulfilled.”

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