The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

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Society of Womens Engineers club reaches out to young women with an interest in engineering

SWE works together to bring more girls into the engineering field through fun activities, visits to middle schools
By Olivia Peters
Juniors Cora Jones and Elaina Fagen participate in a meet and greet with the many women attending this year’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED).

In the past, there were plans to create a club for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) here at the school, but they were interrupted due to COVID. However, the club recently finished those plans and was able to start SWE.

The Society of Women Engineers is a worldwide organization founded in 1950 to advocate for women in the engineering field. At the high school level, SWE meets after school on every other Wednesday. There, the members build and model different design challenges and learn about engineering fields, according to engineering teacher and club sponsor Brian Hagstrom.

By Madelyn Mulryan

“Right now [SWE] has been exploring more design challenges,” Hagstrom said. “So playing with some of the materials we have, building and modeling and looking at what are the different structures and what different engineering fields we have. We are continuing to go more on the design challenges to hopefully do the outreach side of things.”

Hagstrom explained that the SWE can be role models to these young girls who may be interested in engineering.

“We are looking at creating a design challenge that we can bring to the middle school and elementary schools to promote engineering there and then having that female presence presenting it then those at the lower level can see, ‘Hey, she looks like me,’” Hagstrom said.

With this plan underway, other members are ready to help the club grow. Freshman Molly Hillner is excited to bring younger girls into engineering.

“[Reaching out] to women who like [STEM] helps them get more comfortable in the field of engineering and know that they’re not alone,” Hillner said. “It brings more women into engineering overall.”

Recently, the SWE traveled to the annual Introduce a Women to Engineering Day at the Kansas City Convention Center. There, they were able to participate in engineering fair activities and get direct advice from women engineers. For junior Davin Bickerstaff, the event was able to help her build her network.

“Many industry representatives will reach out to you and try to make a connection for possible internships,” Bickerstaff said. “By getting some business cards and giving out my info, like text and email, my STEM opportunities have grown significantly. It was nice to network a bit.”

The SWE club is hoping to create an environment that supports women who are interested in all types of STEM, according to junior Lexus Pennel.

Freshman Alexa Lamoureux uses spoons, popsicle sticks and a straw to build a contraption that will pick up different objects for points. (By Olivia Peters)

“We have [people that are] artists and architecture focused,” Pennel said. “There’s a couple of us who take computer integrated manufacturing and engineering. We come from all corners of engineering.”

Since the club has ambitious goals, some members have assumed leadership roles. Hagstrom depicts the club as very student-driven.

“Most of what I want to do is hands off,” Hagstrom said. “I’m seeing the group develop, and we’re having a couple people show a leadership side of things. I just really want the students to create their own club and have me be their resource.”

Due to the lack of women in STEM fields, it can make it difficult for women of different ages and experiences to collaborate. According to junior Elise Davis, this makes SWE an important addition.

Tape in hand, junior Elaina Fagen works with a member of her team to build a grabber with a single pivot point for the competition ahead. Fagen and other members of the Society of Women Engineers traveled to the Bartle Hall Convention Center for the annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Friday, Feb. 23. (By Olivia Peters)

“The club is really important because in a lot of the engineering classes there are only one or two girls,” Davis said. “Split between the grade levels, all of the women in engineering are kind of separated. SWE gives us the opportunity to meet each other and ask questions, [along with] relating to certain topics.”

Beyond just being the minority in the STEM careers, women often struggle with earning respect and simply finding opportunities to grow their education and experience. Junior Cadence Kerr finds SWE to be a supportive environment to work through that struggle.

“I think [SWE] is needed because there are a lot more guys in [engineering] than girls,” Kerr said. “It’s harder for women to get job opportunities or be more respected in that field, so [SWE] brings us together.”

Davis said she hopes that the SWE will become a supportive space for women to learn and prepare for a future career in engineering.

“Our goals are to reach out to as many women in STEM as possible and help answer questions and create a community for us to be together and also share certain resources, mentors and connections to companies for the future.” Davis said.

By Madelyn Mulryan
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About the Contributors
Hailey Perrin
Hailey Perrin, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is junior Hailey Perrin’s second year on the JagWire staff. She is looking forward to another year of designing and some more exploring in writing and photography. Outside of the newspaper room she enjoys traveling, anything creative and photography. If she is not doing one of those things she will be with her friends having the time of her life.
Madelyn Mulryan
Madelyn Mulryan, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Madelyn Mulryan’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is exploring all roles for newspaper but especially writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music, spending quality time with friends and binge-watching shows. Maddie is involved in Youth for Refugees, Women’s Empowerment, Model UN and Debate. She is excited to make this year of newspaper great!
Ian Chern
Ian Chern, JagWire copy editor
This is junior Ian Chern’s second year on the JagWire staff. This year he is taking up the role of copy editor along with writer and photographer. Outside of school, Ian enjoys watching sports, listening to music, playing basketball and soccer, volunteering at food banks and spending time with friends and family. He is also a member of NHS, Science Olympiad and likes to participate in Relay for Life.
Olivia Peters
Olivia Peters, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is senior Olivia Peters’ first year on the JagWire staff. She is exploring all roles this year: writing, designing and taking photos. Outside of journalism, she is president of Mill Valley’s SNHS, captain of the Color Guard, vice-president of Youth for Refugees and secretary of the Women’s Empowerment Club. She is also involved in NEHS, Model UN and Scholar’s Bowl. Outside of school, Olivia enjoys reading, working as a gymnastics coach, and playing dungeons and dragons.

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