By Erika Demel
Dr. Sally Hicks, chair of the University of Dallas physics department, recently secured for UD a grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program. This grant will provide scholarships to junior and senior female science majors. The scholarship will not only help students pay for their education at UD, but it will also help them obtain lab research opportunities, which will prepare them for future graduate studies.
The majors that the grant scholarships are focused on are mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering. These majors are notorious for having incredibly small percentages of female students. It is a common opinion that the majority of females are not interested in science and mathematics, making these fields even more male-dominated.
When I was in high school, I noticed I was one of the few girls openly enthusiastic about any scientific field. I noticed that other girls were interested in these subjects, but many felt the need to hide their skills in science and math, as though it were a point of shame.
For some girls that is not an issue, but not every woman is the same. We cannot demand that every 17- and 18- year old girl who is interested in science, engineering or mathematics have the courage and self-confidence to pursue her interests despite the challenges she will face due to her gender. I am thankful that other women before me paved the way for me in my fields of interest, chemistry and biochemistry, but in high school, I doubted my abilities in physics and engineering. Now I wonder if those doubts were caused by influences that led me to believe that I did not belong in those fields.
By giving scholarships to young women who are navigating the difficulties of being a female in male-dominated fields, the Clare Boothe Luce grant will help alleviate those challenges. The scholarships celebrate the hard work of these female students and encourage them to continue their difficult work.
This will help both current and future students. Those who receive the grant will go on to show that women can be successful scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and will also help eliminate the stigma of being a woman in science as recipients set positive examples.