Tag Archives: science

Women struggle to break down wall in STEM fields

Where would we be without our iPhones, tablets, and laptops? The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field is responsible for much of what we know to be everyday conveniences in life, from something as simple as turning the light on to driving a car.  Even though these important aspects of life are everywhere, these “conveniences” are produced by a primarily male dominated industry.

Retention of women in STEM fields is much lower than men in the same field.

For women there is a struggle to fit in, which still is continuing in such related fields today. Predominantly male-dominated careers creates a barrier that many women struggle to break through.

By having men in STEM careers and positions there is a culture that develops that is male-centered. As a result, many women are hesitant to dive into the fields that are catered to men, even if they have exceptional abilities.

Karen Purcell, a professional engineer and owner of PK Electrical sees the struggle women face in a male-dominated field. She believes that there is a specific barrier established by men in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields that women are not accustomed to and uncomfortable with.

A successful engineer at her own company, Purcell strives to empower women to follow their dream of pursuing education and careers in the STEM field.

“By maintaining certain fields as male-dominated, we are allowing those cultures in those fields to be established and maintained by men” Purcell said.

Many women who strive to pursue STEM related career paths are not exposed to the workplace and the culture itself at an early age, as with other female-dominated professions.

Purcell describes the introduction to her engineering career began with an “accidental mentor,” and says she was aided through the process of discovering her passion in a male-dominated STEM field.

Purcell’s high school physics teacher noticed her skills in math and science and suggested she pursue an engineering degree.

Purcell later went on to receive a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Widner University.

She accredits her success to her high school teacher giving her a push and encouraging her to follow a path that most women do not pursue.

Purcell suggests female professionals in STEM related careers act as mentors.

Many students, men and women, struggle to find their footing in any field and a helping hand can lead students to success and help them gain confidence as they enter the world of work.

She stresses that mentors themselves frequently find value through such experiences on professional and personal levels, since the mentor watches the student learn, change, and develop into the person they will be tomorrow.

“In my field, I strongly believe that women early in their engineering career and young women, those who don’t even know yet that they will become engineers, are unquestionably the future of our profession” Purcell said.

Katie Devore / Staff writer

Katie Devore can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com

Visiting professor presents early theories of the cosmos during Science Colloquium

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Jason Jordan, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, presents theories of the cosmos from Greek philosophers during his lecture “The Origins of Cosmology in Ancient Greece,” on Feb. 21 in Murdoch 105.
Photo by Jessica Prokop

There have been many theories about the cosmos throughout the centuries, some of which most famously crafted by philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle. Even so, more modern theories were already being explored long before their time.
This concept is what students, faculty and community members gathered to ponder during the first Science Colloquium of the semester, “The Origins of Cosmology in Ancient Greece,” on Feb. 21 in Murdoch 105.
Jason Jordan, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, led the discussion for the packed lecture hall. The group was one of the biggest turnouts to the series so far, said Jennifer Heath, chair and associate professor of physics.
During the lecture, Jordan discussed how more modern theories of the time actually date back to the sixth century B.C. from a school on the West coast of Asia Minor. Philosophers from the area, Anaximander and Democritus, were already pondering theories, such as gravity, atomic theory and the universe.
Although no written works remain, Anaximander is believed by many to be the first true philosopher and scientist, Jordan said.
The Greek philosopher is most noted for his work in describing the origin and mechanics of Earth and its relevance to other celestial bodies, Jordan said.
Anaximander spent a lot of time exploring what supports the Earth. He determined that indifference holds the Earth in place, a logical force, Jordan explained.
About a century and a half after Anaximander, Democritus tried other ways of viewing the universe. He compared the universe to a cosmic whirl, arguing that Earth is like the collected garbage of the vortex. He also argued that there were infinite numbers of worlds. Democritus believed the friction caused by the swirling accounted for the heat and glow of the Sun and stars, Jordan said.
Jordan rounded out his lecture with Democritus’ argument that the world has no cause. Other philosophers of the time disagreed with this notion, saying that nothing can exist without cause. Democritus answered the metaphysical question of why is there something rather than noting by saying there is no reason why.
“I think it’s interesting reading about and listening to people from long ago. To read and understand their reasons is strange. I like it,” Jordan said.
The next Science Colloquium will focus on the Big Bang Theory, presented by Michael Crosser, assistant professor of physics, Feb. 28.


Jessica Prokop/Editor-in-Chief

Jessica can be reached at linfieldrevieweditor@gmail.com

Linfield club finishes among top placers

The Linfield College Computer Science Club recently finished among the top placers at a programing competition held Nov. 3 at the University of Portland. The competition was the 2012 Pacific Northwest regional qualifier of the International Collegiate Programming Contest.

“I think the International Collegiate Programming Contest is a wonderful experience for the computer science students here at Linfield,” sophomore Graham Romero said.

Linfield sent a total of 14 students representing five separate teams to the competition. In total, the teams representing Linfield were the best in Oregon and finished seventh regionally.

“The problems given aren’t necessarily what you’d have in real life, especially because they all have a theme. This year was “Lord of the Rings,” but they contain concepts that are very applicable in real-life situations,” Romero said.

Some of the other schools represented at the competition were Stanford University, University of British Columbia, University of California, Berkeley and University of Washington.

As an end result, Linfield teams finished second, sixth, 10th, 15th, 22nd and 23rd in the state of Oregon, giving Linfield the highest ranking from the state.

“I attended the same contest last year at University of Oregon, and ranked 60th of 94. This year my team got 33rd of 111 teams, so it’s nice to see that improvement,” Romero said. “Relative to last year, or any year we’ve participated, Linfield did much better. Our professor, Daniel Ford, definitely helped prepare us for the contest, as well as the workshop leader, senior Cody Tipton,” Romero said.

The International Collegiate Programming Contest is the largest, oldest and most prestigious programming contest in the world. In total, more than 25,000 students, representing 2,200 universities from 85 countries, located on six continents competed in regional qualifiers around the world.

In order for students to compete, they must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate school program, and either be younger than 23 or have completed less than five years of education after high school.

It goes without saying that students from the Linfield College Computer Science Club had an exceptional performance at their recent regional qualifier. Not only do their results come with bragging rights, but it also comes with the pride of achieving goals.

Madeline Bergman

Staff writer

Madeline Bergman can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com.