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More women in STEM is this group's benchmark – George Mason University

For Areeba Qureshi and Aiza Asam, president and vice president, respectively, of George Mason University’s student-run organization STEMinists, their mission statement is clear.
“The number of women in STEM fields is very low compared to the number of men,” Qureshi said. “We really want to battle that gender difference and increase women who are in science and engineering.”
The numbers do tell the story.
According to the Computer Research Association’s national 2020-21 Taulbee Survey, women accounted for just 22.3% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science, 17% in computer engineering and 22.7% in information technology.
Mason’s graduation numbers mostly mirror those statistics, with women accounting for 19% of computer science degrees in 2020-21, 18% in computer engineering and 25.6% in information technology.
For Asam, the numbers also speak to ethnic sensibilities.
“We are children of immigrants,” she said. “So immigrants, most of them don’t have a good idea of what STEM fields are. To them, career opportunities are very simple, very basic, like lawyer, doctor. There are roles for women outside of what they’re used to. They just need an outside source to give them that information, that inspiration.”
STEMinists is only a bit more than a year old, but claims 183 members on its Mason360 page.
Qureshi and Asam, both senior biology majors, have been there from the start, and collaborated on painting the colorful STEMinists bench you can’t miss as you walk north on campus past SUB I.
The organization is active.
In March, the group put on an in-person speaker event that drew an audience of 30 and included Ali Karim, founder of Global Shout, a nonprofit that, according to its website, helps those in need around the world attain the essential goods, tools and expertise to improve their lives; Lorraine Waltz, director of oncology at Virginia Hospital Center; and Soha Mohammed, a medical student at Howard University.
An event about networking is planned for next spring. There also is a planned partnership with Women in Bio, an organization of professionals that promotes careers, leadership and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences. The groups will join forces, that will help develop prospects for internships and jobs.
That STEMinists has grown so rapidly is a testament to Mason’s culture, said Asam, who transferred to Mason from Northern Virginia Community College.
“I always say this to everyone, but I just love how diverse Mason is and how you can learn so many new things just by having a conversation,” she said. “It gives me a sense of unity, which is very nice.”
Even so, STEMinists had some growing pains.
“Before every single meeting we were always panicking. ‘Is anyone going to show up?’” Asam said. “But we always have somewhat of a turnout and it always makes us happy.”
“I feel like we accomplished something,” Qureshi said. “I feel like we’re making a difference.”
For more information about STEMinists, go to its Instagram page @gmusteminists.
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Tel: +1(703)993-1000
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Tel: +1(703)993-1000

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