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Leadership Highlight Reflections on How Women’s Student Leadership Experiences Prepare Leaders in STEM Careers Fields

I recently had the unique opportunity to interview two Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) women student leaders and asked them to share their experiences and perspectives on leadership at the institution. Both students, Susi Vasquez Trujillo and Bri Bonfiglio, shared remarkable reflections and takeaways from their experiences at a majority-male institution and aspirations to be leaders in majority-male STEM career pathways. MH: What inspired you to get involved as a student leader? Bri and Susi noted the value of becoming connected to campus in their first year at the institution. BB: The initial orientation experience inspired me; somebody made a difference in my life and I wanted to do the same for other students. SV: Several role models I had as a first year student inspired me. I looked up to my SRA [Senior Resident Assistant]. It is also part of my personality to become involved and take on leadership roles.

MH: What was your experience to initially get involved as a student leader like? BB: It was easy and I was welcomed to get involved on campus. I noticed a lot of influential women on the professional staff, including the director of orientation, and other great women leaders. It was comforting environment to me as a student and I knew I wanted to help do that for someone else. SV: I noticed how women are involved in student organizations and provided important leadership to the core group of student leaders. In ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), women leaders are influential in keeping the team together and play many important roles. MH: What challenges do you face as a women student leader at a majoritymale institution? Susi and Bri both reflected on instances where gender-stereotypes have created challenges in gaining confidence to be leaders in majority-male organizations. SV: I’ve had experiences where leadership roles were stereotyped [based on gender]. In ASCE, the captain of the canoe building team is stereotyped to be a male student’s position because the project involves hands on manual labor.

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