WSU Week of Women in STEM returns March 18–21

Students with the Association for Women in STEM participate in a meeting.
Members of the Association for Women in STEM are working with the Society for Women Engineers to bring back WSU Women in STEM events later this month.

Following four years of dormancy, the Washington State University Week of Women in STEM is being revitalized this month on the Pullman campus thanks to the efforts of two student groups.

The Society for Women Engineers and the Association for Women in STEM teamed up with staff from the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture to revive the event, which last took place in 2019.

The return of the WSU Week of Women in STEM was spurred on by a chance encounter Yecenia Cortez had at a career fair in the fall.

“I’m really big on the idea that closed mouths don’t get fed, and so when I overheard someone at the event talking about potentially doing the event, I spoke up and said I wanted to be involved,” Cortez, president of the Association for Women in STEM, said.

WSU Week of Women in STEM runs from March 18-21, culminating in a panel discussion and dinner March 21 featuring prominent women in STEM fields sharing their experiences and engaging with students. Among the panelists are several WSU alumna:

  • Dr. Tiffany Ludka-Gaulke, Internal Medicine & Pediatrics in Spokane, WSU Class of 2004
  • Erika Offerdahl, PhD, associate director of undergraduate education, WSU School of Molecular Biosciences, Biochemistry, Pullman
  • Jillian Cadwell, PhD, research associate faculty in civil engineering, WSU Tri-Cities School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
  • Angelina Evans, director of logistics at Microsoft
  • Kristin Torda, innovation director in supply chain at Microsoft
  • Kitana Kaiphanliam, PhD, Co-founder and CEO of Ananta Technologies, WSU Class of 2018
  • Krista Jones, Doctor of Physical Therapy, WSU Class of 1997

The free event runs from 5-7 p.m. inside the CUB ballroom, with interested undergraduate and graduate students asked to register ahead of time.

“We are hoping that the attendees will be inspired and takeaway a new appreciation for STEM fields here at WSU,” Chloe Kemmerling, president of the Society for Women Engineers, said. 

Next week’s events kick off with free coffee offerings outside of the Compton Union Building from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Sloan Hall from 9 a.m. – Noon. A screening of “Hidden Figures” is happening at 5 p.m. March 20 inside room 276 of Todd Hall.

Students with the Association for Women in STEM participate in a meeting.
Members of the Association for Women in STEM are working with the Society for Women Engineers to bring back WSU Women in STEM events later this month

Organizers are hopeful that the return of WSU Week of Women in STEM will bring together women pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and be just one of many similar events to come.

“It’s been very impressive to see these organizations work to bring this event back after COVID, and we appreciate them getting things back together,” said Sandi Brabb, director of internships and career services for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

The Association for Women in STEM is a new student group, formed just this past fall by Cortez, a third-year biology student, and her peers. During her first two years at WSU, Cortez said there wasn’t an active club catering to the broader community of women pursuing STEM degrees, so she got together with her friends and former students from her work as a TA to establish the group.

“Being a first-gen student from out of state, it felt essential to have a sense of community, so being able to help create that has been really nice” Cortez said. 

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