HATTIESBURG, MS. - Female Engineer and Science graduate students at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) worked to get a grant that encourages women to prosper in STEM related fields.
Graduate students received a $6,600 grant to help create the inaugural "Rise with Wise: The Power of You" Conference. The conference is open to males and females in the community.
“Our hopes were to find a way to give a support system and be able to make those connections in the school and outside of the school, that way we can give a little more of a support" says graduate student Jessica Davidson.
Around 100 people attended the conference. Its objective is to retain females in STEM related disciplines. According to Dr. Sarah Morgan a USM Science and Engineer Professor only 10% of females are in the Engineering field.
Dr. Morgan says, "Studies show that women start in sciences at about the same age as men, but they tend to drop out earlier."
"Some women feel like there are family pressures. Also most of the relationships, a lot of the networks are existing with men" says Dr. Morgan.
The conference includes inspirational speeches, ways for females to rise in the field, etiquette workshops, and work-life balance discussions.
“Statistics are showing that there is this decline that women in sciences and engineering are leaving post-graduation, so we need something for encouragement and women to stay in the field" says USM Professor and speaker Dr. Janet Donaldson.
Those working in the field say conferences are needed for support and a great way for females to become successful in the field.
“Its very inspiring and you hear the ways that people go about things and you find different tid-bit of information that are useful in your everyday life" says Monica Tisak Director of Polymer Institute and speaker.
The graduate students hope to make the conference a yearly event.