News & Events

Waubonsee to Host Women in STEMfest

Waubonsee Community College will host the third annual Women in STEMfest from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 31.

The event takes place on Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus, in the Student Center, Room 106, Route 47 and Waubonsee Drive, and is open and free to the public.

Featuring four speakers and Waubonsee Career Development staff, the event is set up so speakers each have up to 35 minutes to talk, and has been structured to complement student class schedules.

“So it is a come-and-go thing. If you are in class until 12:30 but free after that, you can come hear the last two speakers,” said Mary Edith Butler, Waubonsee Dean for Math and Science.

The four speakers will discuss their careers, and Waubonsee Career Development Center staff will talk about the importance of internships.  Organizers expect about 100 to attend.

Butler said currently, women hold only about 30 percent of the jobs in STEM fields. 

“I recently read an article in Forbes that proposed that one reason for this was that there were not many role models,” she said. “The media projects successful, strong women who are lawyers or doctors, but engineers, lab scientists, and computer programmers are portrayed as ‘geeky.’" 

Butler stressed the purpose of the event is not to discourage male students, but to show female students that they can succeed in these fields. Guest speakers this year are virologists, microbiologists, engineers and physicists who fly planes, run businesses and teach. 

“I think they are inspirations to all of us,” she said.

The speakers are: Dr. Sherine Elsawa, Professor of Microbiology at Northern Illinois University; Dr. Crystal Randall, Researcher in Virology and now at Illinois Math and Science Academy; Dara Randerson, Engineer at ComEd (also a pilot and adjunct professor); Lydia Finney, Physicist from Argonne National Laboratory.