Biomedical engineering masters student, Jennifer Kieda, says her first exposure to the realities of gender inequality in STEM was during a conversation with her doctor who said, "engineering? Isn't that for boys?" to which Kieda responded, "I guess we're going to have to change that." Despite the challenges women in STEM may face, Kieda says that these experiences shaped her into the woman and researcher she is today.
Kieda says she "applauds'' the work being done in the industry to promote a supportive and equal environment for women in STEM. She explains how groups such as Women in Engineering (WIE), hosted through the Equity and Community Inclusion (ECI) Office, offers a supportive environment for women to find female support across all disciplines. "Through their events, I encountered several upper-year females who provided fantastic advice for navigating challenges in engineering, and I am incredibly grateful," she says. During her third and fourth-year, Kieda was given the opportunity to work with Scott Tsai in the Laboratory of Fields, Flows and Interfaces (LoFFI) with the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology (iBEST), external link as a research assistant. Through this experiential opportunity, Kieda became interested in the biomedical engineering field, which led her to pursue research in her master's studies at FEAS. To advocate for women in STEM, Kieda became a teaching assistant, allowing her to provide female representation in her program.
To the women who have taken the leap to pursue a STEM major, Kieda says to be “proud of the adversity you faced and have overcome to be where you are right now,” and to “think about the power you hold to make a change towards creating gender equality in STEM.”