How can we encourage, promote, and influence allyship?

Shanece Wilson

Fourth-year electrical engineering student with a dedicated work ethic and inspiring message. Fun fact, Shanece is 1 of the 16 people -- and the only woman-- competing in the Senior Design division of the Atlantic Engineering Competition this weekend! She shares the following when asked about how to foster allyship in STEM:

As a university student, I think it’s very important to support or encourage STEM classes among the female demographic. But it’s also important to go beyond that. Right now, one of the reasons why we see a low percentage of women in engineering, especially in electrical, is because we don’t often see women portrayed in this field- whether it be at the university level or later in a job position. I think that’s a big factor in why women may sometimes think that engineering may not be meant for them.

Right now, women are constantly being interrupted or their opinions aren’t being heard as much when they try to share new ideas. I think something men as allies can do is ask women for their opinion, encourage them to speak their mind openly, and especially encourage other male individuals to notice when they’re interrupting their female counterparts in STEM.

I know I’ve certainly grown in my ability to be confident and trust myself to take those leaps and bounds. I find a lot of time my male counterparts seem to find that confidence out of thin air and they have no problem taking on those challenges that are still out of their scope. I’m not sure if it’s just myself- and I don’t want to speak on behalf of all women when I say this- but there definitely seems to be a trend in where women have a harder time finding that confidence.

I know for a lot of women thinking about pursuing in engineering it comes down to “do I really want to work in a place where I may not be considered good enough?”. That’s why it’s important to foster the idea among everyone, particularly women who are hesitant, that it's ok to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself. For instance, taking part in things like this conference or doing anything that works towards fostering allyship and perseverance among females in STEM helps!