Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in STEM


Photo courtesy of Ousa Chea, Unsplash

Addyson McCullough, Staff Writer

I will admit that STEM is not the place for me.

In fifth grade, I was introduced to science, technology, engineering and math by my science teacher. Our assignment was to use building blocks and engineer a building that would withstand certain “natural disasters” like my teacher simulating an earthquake. My building went crumbling to the ground.

I have the utmost admiration and respect for women who chose STEM degrees and careers. Young women at FGCU are taking on the world of STEM with great ambition through mentors, support systems and personal motivation. One of these women is Madison Craumer, a junior majoring in environmental engineering and mathematics.

“Currently, I am an outreach assistant in the College of Engineering Dean’s Suite where I help create and implement events and programs representing my college while promoting a diverse and inclusive environment for all students, faculty and prospective students,” Craumer said.

She hopes to pursue a career in sustainability with a focus in water quality. Craumer also has the pleasure of serving as president of the Society of Women Engineers.

“The Society of Women Engineers has given me the opportunity to provide a community for young women professionals in STEM through networking and social events,” Craumer said.

Community is a necessity for women in STEM. Most women, including myself, are creatures of community. In a predominantly male environment, a community with other women must be sought out.

Engineering professor Dr. Lauren Redfern was inspired to study environmental engineering by her parents who encouraged her interest in STEM. Mentorship has greatly impacted her academics and career.

“Find a good mentor. Having support and friends in the field is so helpful,” Redfern said. “My Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Claudia Gunsch, is supportive and kind and I’ve really benefited from her mentorship.”
While I am not in STEM, I am sure mentorship and community lessen the intimidation factor that comes with working in a male-dominated industry. I commend anyone who has the drive to pursue a career or degree in STEM.

“For women interested in pursuing STEM, I would say go for it. Mindset is everything,” Craumer said. “If you are willing to put in the work and stick it out, it will be so rewarding. Yes, it is tough being in a male-dominated field, and I am nervous that I will be treated differently. But I remind myself that I am doing it not only for myself and this earth but also so young girls can grow up having female role models in STEM careers they want to pursue.”

It is incredibly important for women in STEM to be assertive in the industry and receive notice for their work.

“Don’t be afraid to take up the space you deserve in your field!” Craumer said.

For young women either pursuing or thinking about getting a degree, and eventually, a career in STEM fields, know that it is ok to not be good at something right away.

“I didn’t always like math, I wouldn’t even say I was amazing at it. In fact, it wasn’t until doing engineering that I fell in love with math,” Craumer said. “That being said, just because you feel like something might be difficult or foreign, don’t limit yourself. It’s a hard semester, not a hard life. You can and will get through it, and the journey is worth it for a great destination.”

With Feb. having a full day dedicated to women and girls in science, these women are powering through to pursue their dreams and careers.