Miranda Tejeda | SS21

Karter Taylor and Delaney Decker visit Oxford’s uptown during Summer Scholars. — Contributed photo

Summer Scholars helps
advance women in STEM

In the 1970s, only 7% of working women in the United States were pursuing STEM-related careers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2020, that  number increased to about 27%. To address the issue and advance women in science, technology, engineering and math professions, schools now seek to spark interest in STEM studies beginning in middle school.  This summer, the Miami University Summer Scholars program offered two engineering modules to get at the problem. 

Delaney Decker, 16, and Karter Taylor, 17, were both students in the Engineering: Under Pressure module. The students and others in their module worked on creating a canister to grab a sample from a hydrothermal vent. A hydrothermal vent is a tear in the sea floor where heated water is expelled at high pressure. The conditions make it very difficult to capture samples, Taylor explained.

Both students answered questions about their interest in STEM work.

Students test a canister in the Under Pressure module. — Contributed photo

Question: Do you have an interest in careers in  STEM and if so are there specific degrees or careers you want to pursue? 

Answer (Decker): “I’m looking at going into nuclear engineering and radiological sciences. I’m looking into University of Michigan, and I am really focusing on how to make radiology safer for humans because it’s not safe right now and if we can make it safer for women who are pregnant or older people who have really bad reactions to radiology, it could really help further scientific studies and help people in the long run.

Answer (Taylor): “I’m interested in going into the medical field specifically but as my pre-med degree I want to go into biomedical engineering because I’ve always had an interest in prosthetics and how they are made and overall I enjoy helping people. I want to be able to create something to help people spark confidence and functionality in themselves.”

Q: How do you feel about the marketing of STEM toys that are directed toward little girls, such as things that are stereotypically girly and pink? 

A: (Decker) “I dislike the fact that society thinks just because something is pink, that makes it “automatically girl”. As a child I was a girly girl, but when I bought toys I’d find myself being drawn to things that were not at all marketed toward me, like science kits. Everything needs to be more gender-neutral since now there’s these big ideas on what gender is, and how constructs are changing. Everyone needs to feel represented.” 

A: (Taylor) “In my opinion, as a kid, I don’t ever remember being advertised anything toward STEM, I also loved the idea of those science kits but they were always stereotypically boys’ colors. It wasn’t until after I learned what STEM was, I was able to start seeing things “made” for girls but I felt like I was still being forced by society to go into an industry that’s typically for women.”

Q: Why do you think we need more women involved in STEM?

A: (Decker) “I think we need more women in STEM so that we can break the glass ceiling that’s been there so long and to prove that even though I’m a woman, I can still do things that men can do and further the studies and I can do more science on women, like women’s menstrual studies to further studies.”

A: (Taylor) “Women can deliver a different perspective or a different level of value because women can sometimes find an out of box way to come to the same conclusion that can end up being more effective, women can find finer details. Women can unlock parts of their brain that men can’t use.”

Q: Do you ever lack confidence knowing you’re pursuing something that’s typically a male dominated field? 

A: (Taylor) “Yes, Even in class, even when it has nothing to do with engineering, i’ve been told “no you are wrong” and get shut down, even if a guy gets the same answer as me and gets it correct. There’s so much sexism that occurs, it destroys your self esteem and causes you to doubt yourself. That’s what society wants, they want women to doubt themselves so they can be pushed back into typically “feminine” jobs.”

Q: Do you have any role models that you feel represent you or have encouraged you? 

A: (Decker) “I look up to my dad since he’s an engineer and I have a lot of respect because when he hires he doesn’t discriminate based on anything. He hires all types of people, Men and women of any color, race, or sexuality. I also look up to any women going after a career in STEM, especially the women from the movie Hidden Figures.”

A: (Taylor) “My grandpa, he was a very prominent businessman in his city, and he invested in tons of less fortunate businesses, even if there was the risk they would crash and burn. He gave so much of his time and money to other people, not expecting any clout in return. He was very selfless.”

Engineering: Designing and Building a Interactive Robot 

Engineering. A field that only continues to rise in popularity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2019 and 2029, there should be an increase of about 30,000 jobs in the field nationally. 

Michael Dejournett gestures to formula used to calculate the angle the robot needs to turn. — Photo by Miranda Tejeda

Miami University is among them — with two Summer Scholars’ programs offered by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In “Design and Build An Interactive Robot,” seven students brought all different levels of engineering experience ranging from “president of their school’s engineering club” to just testing out a new hobby. 

The class, led by Jim Leonard, lab coordinator and technician for the department,  worked on building autonomous vehicles with a budget of about $50 to $60 per robotic kit. After students finished building the robots, they worked on transferring lines of code using Arduino, an open-source hardware/software for building digital devices.

Aidan Zawodny shows off his autonomous vehicle. — Photo by Miranda Tejeda

 According to the students, after that it was  trial and error, testing different combinations of various codes to make the robot complete the tasks they wanted. The end goal was for their robots to be able to go straight, turn, go straight without being interrupted by a divot in the path, and lastly perform a couple of spins before crossing the finish line! 

Leonard provided students with the fundamentals of engineering while providing an inclusive learning environment where everyone felt comfortable no matter their experience level, race, gender, or sexual orientation. All of the students in the class mentioned that they want to pursue a career in engineering in the future.

Media and Women’s Sexuality

A woman’s ability to express her sexuality is typically diminished by toxic criticisms and opinions of society. Many women have reported that they have felt boxed into labels or stereotypes such as the “Madonna-Whore” complex which describes a woman who’s comfortable in her skin. But on the flip side some women have described themselves as feeling boxed into the label as “The Saint” or “The Prude” label which refers to a women who is confident in her modesty. The reason women get boxed is because it’s part of the Patriarch’s way of silencing female voices to attempt to put women in their place and make them “submissive” or easy to deal with.

Cardi and Megan in their new music video, Image taken from Vulture.com

The most common example in media we can see of a woman’s voice being silenced can be seen in the music industry, especially with female rappers. In Megan thee Stallion and Cardi B’s music we can see the emphasis they put on how selflessly and singularly concerned they are with their sexual ideals and identities.  After they released their most recent album they got a lot of backlash, including from major news sites like, National Reviews. They mentioned their most recent song “Indulges in Hoary Sexual Cliches.” Would they be saying this if a man wrote the song? 

  • Lollipop~ Lil Wayne 
  • Love in this Club~ Usher 
  • Low~ Flo Rida 

These are three of the most popular songs from the early 2000’s about men’s sexuality. If you search these song titles and put “controversy” after it, nothing’s going to come up, while many responses come up for music composed by female rappers. This is the same for the hundreds of other songs written by men. It’s been about 20 years and women are still getting shamed for expressing there sexuality, which is a completely normal thing. Society and the media needs to change the way they view women, because it seems nothing is ever going to be good enough. Does society want little girls growing up in a world where they have to fit certain ideals for men starting at such a young age? Hopefully not. The media needs to stop forcing ideals on women and diminishing their sexuality.

About the author

Miranda Tejeda is a 16-year-old rising junior at Sycamore High School who resides in Blue Ash, Ohio, near Cincinnati. In school she enjoys her English and theater courses. Tejeda has also been doing shows in theater for a few years now, some favorites are “The Little Mermaid,” “Working” and “Newsies.”

When not participating in a school extracurricular, Tejeda can be found with a book in hand that’s most likely a classic. Her favorite books include “The Great Gatsby” and “Of Mice and Men.” Tejeda has been a member of theater, improv, creative writing, choir and dance team so far throughout her high school experience. She wants to attend college for broadcast journalism and political science, and her main goal is to host a talk show.