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From heels to a helmet: The female engineer

Gianluca Cuevas
Marta Romeu Chen, balances her time between the classroom and the golf course.

From unwanted judgment to discrimination, women scientists in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are becoming the leading domination. Eight years ago, the odds of seeing a woman in a STEM workforce was 21 percent according to STEM Women Limited.  

Women are beginning to see an influx in the male-dominated STEM fields. Although the growth is gradual, percentages are starting to increase, stopping the stigma of male dominance in STEM.

Women who are future engineers, coders, IT technicians or more, are beginning their careers at UTEP. Whether they’re studying mechanical engineering, or biochemistry, confidence to go against the statistics starts here.

One of the women aiming to go against the stigma is Valeria Arellano. Arellano majors in engineering leadership and innovation (E-Lead) with a concentration in electrical engineering, which is considered by some students as the most rigorous in the field of engineering.

“We take classes where we work in groups and we learn how to better our leadership skills, and we learn about the business side of engineering,” Arellano said. “We have core classes where each semester we work in a big group project, and we do (different things) like my sophomore year we learn about circuits, working with python, (etc.).”

Aspiring to work with either F1, Google or Microsoft, Arellano says E-Lead has prepared her for different opportunities, because of the support from her classmates. However, Arellano says at times she is not prepared for the reality of being in a male-dominated field. 

“In my typical engineering classes, I’ve never really seen any females, if I’m lucky maybe five in a class and the rest of them are males,” Arellano said. “Just recently, I got to visit the Halliburton Headquarters in Houston, and we got to see engineers doing what they actually do, (but) out of the actual engineers that were there, there was maybe ten to 15 women, and the rest of them where male.”

Yet Arellano says she hopes for a future in STEM where men and women aren’t labeled by their gender. 

“Within E-Lead, we don’t view each other as men in STEM, women in STEM, we are just people in engineering,” Arellano said. “I hope that would translate to real life or more engineering fields, because in my actual engineering classes, they’re mostly male dominated, and the girls are kind of afraid to speak up or feel like their contributions aren’t as appreciated as the men’s.” 

Marta Romeu Chen is another student who handles not only the challenging work of engineering but is also an athlete and dreams of becoming a manager for a factory.

“Industrial engineering is more of a management project, like supervision (it’s) more hands on than like mechanical or electrical engineering,” Romeu Chen said. “(I’m) trying to reach the point to where I can be a manager in a factory or something (similar).” 

However, to beat the stereotype of engineering majors who spend most of their time studying, Romeu Chen balances her busy schedule of her social life, sports life and engineering life.

“I try to keep a to-do list of what I have to do that week, and (what’s) due to what date, so I know beforehand and don’t stress out looking on Blackboard,” Romeu Chen said. “(My team) is always asking (each other) how we are, and help each other even with classes, even though some of (us) don’t have the same classes, they try to lookout for you. I try not to take school to (my sport), but sometimes you just can’t avoid it, because there’s so much in mind, so they are always trying to (tell) you, ‘Take your mind out of it,’ (and) make plans or come to the dorms to hang out a bit.”

As women are becoming more prominent in STEM fields, it’s important to recognize the women who were the first to fight against the odds, and become the scientist, engineer, mathematician, etc. that they are today. UTEP and its various programs, are here to support women in STEM, and continue to blossom their learning and career.

Sofia Sierra is the web and copy editor and may be reached at[email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Gianluca Cuevas
Gianluca Cuevas, Photographer
Gianluca Cuevas is a staff photographer for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. He plans to work in the automotive industry designing cars/mechanic in the F1. He also has his small photography business 365elements which he plans to continue to grow.
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