When Laura Shannon started her engineering program at Washington State University Vancouver, she noticed the need for a community of other female engineers to join forces and support each other. Shannon and another female engineering student were working on a class research project together and noted how rare it was to study and work with other women in the engineering program. She says, “We began talking about the lack of women in engineering, the discrimination you experience, and how isolating it can be. By the end of the night, we had decided to look into creating a club geared towards the other female engineering students on campus.” That was how Community for Women Engineers began, and today, Shannon and her group of three other leaders are helping inspire young people—especially girls—around Clark County to tap into their gifts and pursue their love of math, science, and engineering.
The club’s primary mission is to increase interest and involvement of women of all ages in engineering, both on campus and around the local community. To do this, they offer social events on WSU Vancouver campus that give women a place to get to know each other outside of classes, in addition to providing networking opportunities. They have also started going to local schools, offering monthly luncheons for young women. This year, they are at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground and last year, they worked with Discovery Middle School in Vancouver. There, the team brings a pizza lunch to students while they discuss different aspects of engineering and provide and guide students through STEM-oriented activities. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.