Women belong in STEM

KAWSE creates opportunities for women to engage with and thrive in STEM fields

At Kansas State University, International Women’s Day, March 8, is being celebrated in a special way: with the 10-year celebration of the K-State Office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (KAWSE).

Over the past decade, KAWSE has advocated for the needs of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Offering over 400 programs, KAWSE has welcomed more than 7,500 participants to events that enrich the STEM experience.

KAWSE is made up of four unique programs, each directed at a separate age group:

  • GROW: Girls Researching Our World, is for 6-8 graders. GROW features Saturday and Summer workshops on campus to introduce participants to the idea of a career in STEM.
  • EXCITE: Is for 9-12 graders. EXCITE includes  shadow days and hands-on activities to offer a ‘day-in-the-life’ experience of a K-State STEM student, as well as a Summer Workshop.
  • SUCCEED: Is created to offer undergraduate and graduate students professional development, networking and volunteer opportunities.
  • ADVANCE: Offers postdoctoral researchers and faculty career development events.

“I attended the EXCITE program the summer after my eighth-grade year,” said Aidan Cairns, a summer workshop mentor. “This was an impactful experience for me, which I believe contributed to why I am currently majoring in chemical engineering. I would like to give other girls a similar experience by helping to spark their interest in STEM fields, as well as boost their self-confidence in their potential, regardless of what field they decide to go into.”

With less than one-third of the STEM workforce comprised of women, the time is now to provide access and opportunities for all women to pursue a science-related career. Philanthropic support is a large part of this, enabling KAWSE to fund staff salaries, cover registration costs, provide supplies to facilitators, create promotional materials and bring in field experts for various networking and mentoring events.

“I think K-State thrives on diversity and hard work,” said a GROW mentor and SUCCEED participant. “These are two areas that KAWSE exemplifies. To be able to see such an accomplished and far-reaching community of women is encouraging for all students. I’ve seen many of my professors involved in KAWSE events, and that has made me feel a high sense of connection with them.”

Written by Ariana Brancato

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