Madi is a senior electrical engineering major at a university in Ohio.
Her creativity and interest in design started early through her dad, an environmental engineer. In high school, four years of Project Lead the Way shaped her interest in STEM. A digital logic course her junior year and an electric guitar project became the last steps before applying those skills in the pursuit of a career.
College has its own challenges though. Mechanical and civil engineering majors usually have a small to medium handful of females, but the EECS (electrical engineering and computer science) department only has two women graduating this year. One of the biggest problems for Madi is respect.
“I know I have it easier than others, but there are times when professors are quick to jump in with opinions and it happens more with females," said Madi. "They tend to teach males in lab settings, but just do the work for girls.”
Madi also knows the comments some professors make about the women or their work happen without those men realizing the broader implications. It has a stigma attached.
This isn’t always the case. Looking beyond graduation, Madi believes things will change. Companies are excited to diversify their engineering staff and interns with females. Some claim that there is a large gender pay gap in the electrical engineering field, but her experiences have been fair. While treatment among engineers is good, there are concerns of other departments and their potential for bias.
She believes there needs to be a culture change across the board. High school has a large influence on young women and STEM. Exposure to programs like Madi was a part of is a start, but the college experience needs more energy.
“Maybe having seminars, general education, or changing the tone of conversations would help people consider different perspectives,” said Madi.
Her experience overall is fulfilling but she feels it’s taken a couple of years to stand up and fight for the respect and equality all the women in the field deserve.
After graduation, Madi wants to apply her skills in the medical field. Her interest in neural engineering and a desire to help people come from her mom’s influences as a nurse. Madi spent a lot of time around those medical staff but felt more called as an innovator. Her eyes are set on grad school and some companies even pay for degrees. Most people would bite at the opportunity to get a masters without more debt, but having diversity helps to advance more than just her personal goals, it combines different perspectives and helps to make the world a better place.