Sorority for women in STEM inducted at DePaul

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Sorority for women in STEM inducted at DePaul

Alpha Sigma Kappa is the newest sorority to be initiated with DePaul’s Panhellenic Council.

Alpha Sigma Kappa is the newest sorority to be initiated with DePaul’s Panhellenic Council.

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Bitar

Alpha Sigma Kappa is the newest sorority to be initiated with DePaul’s Panhellenic Council.

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Bitar

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Bitar

Alpha Sigma Kappa is the newest sorority to be initiated with DePaul’s Panhellenic Council.

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A new sorority was inducted Saturday aimed at uniting women pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), fields traditionally dominated by men.

Alpha Sigma Kappa is a social sorority for women pursuing a degree in STEM fields. The organization was founded at the University of Minnesota in 1989 and now has 12 active chapters in the United States, according to the national Alpha Sigma Kappa website.

Women make up half of the college-educated workforce in the U.S. but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. Scholars have said this gender imbalance stems from discrimination, stereotypes about what someone in a STEM field should look like and a lack of female role models in the fields.

“STEM fields have historically been dominated by men and as a woman, it’s often hard to be taken seriously,” said Bella Noyes, president of the sorority. “That’s where Alpha Sigma Kappa comes in, because we raise each other up and give each other confidence in a field where it can sometimes feel that your confidence is being taken away.”

DePaul’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Kappa was officially established in 2017 and is referred to as the Lambda Chapter to differentiate it from chapters at other universities.

“[Alpha Sigma Kappa] started like most other things that start here at DePaul, an idea and wish to have an empowering, supportive, community of STEM women,” said Stephanie Huizar, President of Outreach for DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa.

Alpha Sigma Kappa is unique from other social sororities at DePaul because it places an emphasis on finding solidarity and success in competitive professional fields.

“I chose to join Alpha Sigma Kappa versus another organization because of the ‘Women in Technical Studies’ part of our name. It represents the bond that all sisters have over our passion for being women in a field where women are in the minority,” Noyes said. “Not only do we support each other as sisters and members of our organization, we support each other academically and professionally in our journey towards being leaders in our fields.”

Members of DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa have expressed appreciation for the supportive nature of the sorority, commenting that those pursuing STEM degrees are often competing with their peers for professional and academic opportunities.

“Being in the sciences makes it really hard sometimes to bond with other students because you’re constantly aware of the competition to get research positions, or into professional school or graduate programs, and it puts an uncomfortable strain on friendships,” said Molly Nealon, President of Special Events for DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa. “For that reason, Alpha Sigma Kappa appealed to me as a place where I could be close with the other strong women in my field without the pressure cooker of an upcoming exam or application.”

While DePaul is home to multiple sororities and fraternities, Greek life is slightly unconventional as those involved do not receive housing from the university. This, combined with DePaul’s location in a major city, have contributed to an arguably smaller campus presence when compared to a state or Big 10 school.

“I think that because we are a school in the city and there’s so much to do off campus people who might stray away from the conventional thought of what college is based on movies or your own idea of it,” Huizar said. “I just think by lacking what most people gravitate toward, the inclination to join may just decrease because you don’t get to experience the full idea of what you dreamt Greek life was like.”

Despite this, Huizar went on to say that she and others involved in Greek life at DePaul are still afforded the same traditions found at other universities, albeit in a less intense way.

Since the organization boasts only 14 members, Alpha Sigma Kappa hope their induction will lead to more exposure on campus and eager new recruits come rush season, where they will partake in informal recruitment.

“I hope to see a lot of growth within the sisterhood both at DePaul and on a national scale,” said Dana Fasman, vice president of DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa. “We have already grown so much in such a short amount of time, so this ceremony will not only secure Alpha Sigma Kappa as an official DePaul Greek organization, but it will also allow us more resources to reach out to students and other organizations.”

DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa will be recruiting during spring quarter and eagerly encourages anyone who is interested to participate.

“I will say what I always say to anyone interested in Alpha Sigma Kappa: Alpha Sigma Kappa is built for women in STEM who are looking for a strong support system,” Huizar said. “We would love to have you help build up our sisterhood, we are nerds who enjoy watching Planet Earth and helping each other with homework because [when] studying in a field that is competitive and hard work, you need that support system to keep your spirits high and just a home away from home.”

In addition to hopefully gaining new recruits, DePaul Alpha Sigma Kappa is striving to break the expectations surrounding women hoping to break into STEM fields and create a more positive space for them to thrive.

“Simply by being a social organization of women in STEM, Alpha Sigma Kappa celebrates them,” Nealon said. “Women in STEM are often forced into a role of being very serious, academic and career-oriented in order to be taken seriously by male peers, and we break out of that. By giving our members a space to be who they are and have fun, we celebrate the true lives of women in STEM.”