“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
- STEM grads have a lower unemployment rate than non-STEM grads (see She Geeks infographic)
- The growth in STEM jobs in the past 10 years was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs (see Edutopia infographic)
- And that growth isn’t stopping: STEM jobs are projected to grow 17 percent from 2008-2018; non-STEM jobs are only projected to grow 9.8 percent
- The payoff for STEM jobs is greater: STEM majors who go on to work in STEM jobs earn 20 percent more than non-STEM majors in non-STEM jobs (read report)
But another hot topic is gender inequality in the workplace, and the story is no different in STEM fields. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, while women make up almost half of the workforce in the United States, they have less than 25 percent of STEM jobs, despite the fact that more college-educated women have joined the workforce. However, women with STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs, and gap between compensation for men and women in STEM fields is less than in other areas.
With all the potential that is available to women in STEM, why aren’t there as many women pursuing STEM careers? In “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap To Innovation,” gender stereotyping and a lack of female role models are cited as a couple of the reasons for the discrepancy.
At Notre Dame de Namur University, there’s no shortage of female role models within our Department of Natural Sciences. We caught up with Natural Sciences faculty Melissa McAlexander, Ph.D., and Rachel Shellabarger, MS, to get their perspective on women in science.
Why did you pursue science?
MM: I was the kid who always loved science – it seemed like fun. My high school biology teacher had a particularly strong influence on me. She really encouraged me, and probably helped me understand for the first time that I could pursue science as a career.
RS: I think the case for myself and a lot of my colleagues was that we found topics we liked and stuck with them because we were passionate about them. As a more general trend, however, I think the scientific process is a way of thinking that works in all realms of life, and perhaps those of us that end up in scientific fields really appreciate that process.
Why is it important for women to work in science?
RS: It’s important for people to go into fields they are interested in and passionate about, regardless of their background/demographic. Science thrives on a range of diverse opinions, and we want the scientific field to be representative of our population as a whole. As with many other fields, there has been a history of excluding women (and other groups) from various parts of science, so we of course want to move toward a future where no group is excluded from a field because of demographics.
MM: In any field, having women as part of the team increases the diversity of ideas and experiences at the table. The process of science benefits when different perspectives are represented in the approaches we take. No gender or ethnicity (or any other way of classifying people) does science “better” than another. But the more we engage the whole of the population in science, the better science gets.
What advice would you give to a student who wants to pursue science?
RS: A career in science requires lots of hard work to understand course material, research protocols/findings, and the broader impact of science on society. Every individual’s background prepares them for scientific inquiry in different ways, and it’s important to understand the skills you bring with you, as well as the skills you need to work to improve.
MM: Go for it, if it is a fit with your interests, skills, and passion. You need to love the process of doing science, of gaining new understandings about the world, and/or of making something beneficial to society. There’s loads of fascinating questions being asked in laboratories in all fields these days – find an area you’re passionate for learning about, and dive in deep. Be ready to be challenged – to try something no one has ever done before, to learn new techniques, and to repeat something challenging until you perfect it.
Science: Where Can You Go and How Do You Get There?
When it comes to science-related job opportunities, the sky’s the limit. There are a number of jobs in clinical or research laboratories that do not necessarily require graduate degrees. Scientists in these positions are trying to answer many different questions that can have a direct impact on our lives. But not all scientists work in the lab — many companies are looking for knowledgeable employees to help with product development or provide technical customer service. These opportunities are available in a variety of fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, health care and environmental science.
You may find working in science education may be more your speed. From university professor to grade school teacher to after-school science programs and museum education programs, there are many ways you can help pass on knowledge to the next generation of inquiring minds. Melissa McAlexander worked at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose before coming to Notre Dame de Namur University. “It was a fabulous way of thinking about how to engage the public with science,” says McAlexander. “And man, was it fun!”
There are a number of scholarships available for women interested in studying science in college; here are a couple of web resources to get you started on your search:
Notre Dame de Namur University offers undergraduate degrees within the natural sciences — biochemistry, biology and kinesiology — as well as minors in biology, biochemistry, chemistry and environmental justice. A Bachelor of Science from NDNU will prepare you for the many exciting opportunities in science.
There is a growing need for people in a variety of helping professions.
Individuals who recognize the importance of working with people, visit this serving them and meeting their needs are often drawn to human services to enhance their abilities to help others, take management roles in organizations or even start their own nonprofit. Although many jobs are in the nonprofit sector, generic often in well-paid positions, employee and human services positions in private and government organizations are also in demand.
Did you know that social and human services are among the most rapidly growing occupations?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for social and human service employees are expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations, particularly for applicants with appropriate postsecondary education. The number of social and human service assistants is projected to grow by nearly 23% for all occupations between 2008 and 2018. Approximately 80,000 new jobs are expected to be created during the next decade. Many additional job opportunities will arise from the need to replace workers who advance into new positions, retire, or leave the workforce for other reasons. Employment in private agencies will grow as state and local governments continue to contract out services to the private sector in an effort to cut costs. Demand for social services will expand with the growing elderly population, who are more likely to need these services.
What can I do with a Human Services Degree?
The leadership skills developed makes Human Services graduates valuable contributors in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations.
Examples include careers in:
- counseling and social work
- human resources or employee relations (profit and nonprofit)
- health care
- community advocacy
- law enforcement and other public safety fields
- employee relations
These jobs include working with:
- children and families
- the elderly
- people with disabilities
- people with addictions
- people with mental illnesses
- homeless and displaced people
What does a Human Services degree offer?
As one of the more versatile degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Human Services prepares you for work in a variety of fields and settings depending on your interests. Prerequisites for this degree generally require introductory knowledge of psychology and sociology.
Students often learn to develop skills in communication, advanced professional writing and how to apply and demonstrate problem-solving techniques to areas in Financial Management, Social Responsibility and Ethics. At Notre Dame de Namur University, students often enhance their career goals by focusing on one of three specialized areas:
A Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services can be a stepping-stone to a post graduate degree for professionals to advance their careers in management; many students continue their studies with a master’s in public administration, business administration, social services or psychology.
“Being in this program has truly changed my life as an individual, as a student, and as an employee. It has helped me gain better understanding of others in a realistic way and has inspired me even more to help and make a difference. The support of the advisers and teachers within the program makes an extreme difference. It is not easy to come back to school, but they are very supportive. They aren’t just there assisting in class, but are available to help at your convenience and sometimes where it is convenient for you. I can’t think of anywhere else in my education where I have had that much support and encouragement.” Read more student feedback.
Learn more about our accelerated evening Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services.
Updated on October 24, 2018
If you want a career in teaching, now is the time!
The State of California is currently experiencing a teacher shortage in a variety of areas. With many teachers currently retiring or nearing retirement age, doctor the state needs 20, troche 000 new teachers a year. At the same time, the number of new teaching credentials granted annually in California is roughly 11,500, leading to a critical shortage and many opportunities. (Read more)
Teaching jobs are becoming available again
A recent report from the Learning Policy Institute showed that 75% of California school districts surveyed were experiencing teacher shortages. The vast majority of these districts reported that their shortfall was growing.
What subject areas are in highest demand?
In addition to the number of teachers needed, many school districts have a particularly strong demand for qualified teachers in mathematics, science, bilingual education and special education.
How do I get started?
Only a few universities in California now offer blended programs for undergraduates to complete a bachelor’s and a credential in as little as four years. Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is one of the few colleges in California with this option, with a strong reputation for excellence in teacher education programs.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and are interested in a credential, you can start a program as early as May 2017 to complete by fall 2018.
If you are just getting started, an accelerated blended Liberal Studies program offered through NDNU is designed for students to finish a BA and credential in as little as four years. Providing early fieldwork experiences in education, the program’s structured advising allows for successful job placement by graduation.
That saves an additional year or two of classes and gives first-year students an opportunity to gain fieldwork experience right away.
New single-subject credential program in biological sciences
NDNU is about to roll out a new four-year program that leads to a bachelor’s degree and a single-subject teaching credential for biology. The program, offered in conjunction with the San Mateo County Community College District, prepares students for classroom teaching in middle schools or high schools with four years of study. Students can complete the first two years of the curriculum either at NDNU or at a community college, allowing for significant time and cost savings over many other teaching credential programs. NDNU will begin accepting applications for the program in fall 2017, for fall 2018 admission.
Financial aid opportunities
There are special grants and financial aid available for students going into teaching. NDNU admissions and financial aid counselors can help you identify and apply for these funding opportunities.
Teaching as a second career
Many professionals are finding that after a career in business, the military or other sectors, they are looking for a work path that allows them to pass on knowledge and opportunities to the next generation. NDNU’s teaching credential programs are ideal for second-career teachers. Class start times are designed for working adults. The campus is centrally located for San Francisco-Silicon Valley workplaces and/or residences. Classes are small in size, and there is a strong collaborative spirit that supports returning students.
Extensive Alumni Network
Notre Dame de Namur has a long history in the field of teacher education. NDNU alumni work as administrators, principals and teachers throughout the Bay Area and California. This network provides a valuable resource for those seeking teaching jobs and student teacher placements.
Request Information on Notre Dame de Namur University Teaching Credential Programs
There are special grants and financial aid available for students going into teaching, so make sure to explore these opportunities for assistance in paying for college.
One of the most challenging things college students face is living with their first roommate. You’re moving in with someone you’ve never met before and you’re expected to get along for a whole year. How things turn out between you and your roommate is probably going to be one of those stories you tell when you go home. So, whatever your story, here are some tips about first roommates to make the transition a little easier.
“You never what?!!!”
The first month living with my freshman year roommate, we said that a lot. My roommate and I grew up on opposite sides of California (me from North, she from the South) and the cultural differences were a shock to us both. She didn’t know what an It’s-It was and I’d never been to a Ralph’s. We went to an ice cream social together and she’d never heard Mac Dre, E-40, or any of the other Bay Area artists whose songs were playing. She also didn’t understand my Northern California slang, like “hecka” or “hella.”
But living with her was not hard at all because, although we are different, we got along well. Rooming with someone you’ve never met before and who comes from a different background than you is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge about a world you never knew or thought about. My SoCal roommate taught me a lot about skin care routines, for instance.
“I’m not moving out, you are!”
I’ve seen it so many times, when two roommates don’t get along. The conflict could be that one stinks up the room with old In-N-Out Burger bags, or one basically has their girlfriend living with them. My advice for this is to talk to your roommate as soon as issues arise and then come to a compromise. Waiting until you’re completely fed up will end with unwanted drama and with your saying things you never wanted to say.
But if the issue can’t be resolved, and the dispute is big enough for the housing office to permit one person to move out, the process of separating as roommates will be less awkward and smooth if you’re both civil.
“Will you be one of my bridesmaids?”
Although you’re living with a stranger in the beginning, roommates can become close and turn into lifelong friends. Long nights staying up talking about the events of the day and sharing new experiences can quickly build a special bond. Your roommate can easily become the person you want to take to Coachella or ask to be your future bridesmaid. Don’t push away the idea of getting too close to your roommate. Even if you already have good friends when starting college, your roommate can be another. I actually recommend that you don’t live with your best friend from high school, and instead stay open to new friendships and experiences.
Joscelyn Q. Pardo is a student worker in Marketing and Communications at Notre Dame de Namur University and a sophomore majoring in psychology, and an RA in a residence hall.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Posted on October 11, 2018
Whenever someone speaks about the “charism” of a religious community, it refers to the original intention of the congregation and the spirit behind its foundation. In the case of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, that original intention dates back to the stormy days of the early 19th century.
St. Julie Billiart began the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1804 in Amiens, France, at a tumultuous time. It was the period at the end of the French Revolution. Thousands of men had been killed during the many attempts of other governments to rescue the French monarchy. Once Napoleon took over the government in 1799, the Napoleonic Wars were fought at nearly every border of the country. Those conflicts also took an enormous toll.
Thousands of women died of tuberculosis or starvation during the French Revolution, leaving many thousands of their children orphans. For ten years, schools led by religious men or religious women were closed. Those closings resulted in thousands of orphans and other children being deprived of the free schools staffed by members of religious orders.
During the Reign of Terror, the revolutionary government in France targeted clergy and the church and attempted to eliminate all traces of Christianity. St. Julie longed to help bring back the Catholic faith to France after ten years of persecution of its members. She wanted to reach out to poor children, many of whom were homeless, to teach them that God loved them and that they had dignity.
St. Julie’s message is carried on the cross worn by members of her congregation: “How Good is the Good God.” That message is the hallmark of her congregation. That simple phrase identifies her “charism.” It also motivates her members to bring the message of God’s love for His people to all those served by her sisters. She admonished her sisters, saying, “You cannot just talk about the love of God to the children, you much show them if they are to believe you.” It is a noble ideal and an awesome challenge to all the members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Sister Roseanne Murphy is a professor emerita of Notre Dame de Namur University and a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur founded NDNU.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Updated on September 19, 2018
Throughout my years as a college student, I’ve heard the term “the full college experience.” Most often this simply means living on campus for four consecutive years at least 100 miles from your hometown. And the farther the better. As if there was one and only one magnificent college experience that a select few students ever get to have. I know plenty of people who chose to go to a four-year university right out of high school strictly because they wanted that traditional student “full college experience.”
Now, while I think living on campus in a new place can be a wonderful and exciting experience, it is not the only college experience. For a long time, I felt like I was missing out by attending College of San Mateo, my local community college, while working as a restaurant server in the evening. By the time I transferred to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), I was really not the traditional student—I was a twenty-three-year-old college sophomore.
I couldn’t shake the thought that I should have graduated already and started a career, but I didn’t even know yet what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I wanted to graduate soon. Correction: I needed to graduate soon.
When I transferred, my plan was to get in and get out as fast as possible. I had no idea then that NDNU would be the place where I would not only obtain my degree, but where I would find myself and achieve my own version of the “full college experience.” After a year at NDNU, I changed my mind about wanting to get in and out. I discovered passions that were buried deep inside me and was given the opportunity to allow them to bloom.
It wasn’t until I came to NDNU that I finally got the chance to find the interests close to my heart. What changed? I was encouraged to face my fears of failure in an atmosphere where even if I stumbled, there was something I could learn.
There’s no one correct path in college during what is arguably the best time of our lives. The “full college experience” should refer to so much more than simply living on campus and walking away with a piece of paper after four years. For me, NDNU is the place where I not only achieved my dream of graduating college, but gained the skills and found the confidence to pursue my next dreams.
Andrea Rosewicz graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree.
For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.
Updated on September 10, 2018
Psychologist and educator John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn by reflecting upon experience.” I’ll begin by reflecting on an experience from my own education.
It’s 1982 and I’m an eighth grader at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in St. Louis. It’s my good fortune to have as a teacher Mrs. Marilyn Hummel. She shares that she’s turning 40 and that no student has ever figured out her birthday. Turning 40 seems like a really big deal, and never having a party feels wrong! So, how can I pull this off? There’s no Google or internet. It dawns on me: if I get Mrs. Hummel to reveal her maiden name, I can search the St. Louis phone book and call her mother, who would surely remember her own daughter’s birthday, right? My plan works. And here I am, on the phone with Mrs. Hummel’s mother. With audible emotion, her mother responds, “You really love my daughter, don’t you?” Her mother’s empathy in naming my experience teaches me to understand my experience, which feels magical. She shares the coveted birth date and I throw the party. I’ll always remember the look on Mrs. Hummel’s face.
Upon reflection, I feel this story illuminates the transformative power of education. Our relationships and experiences matter. Joy, fun, love, and connection are profound teachers. The alchemy between an influential, loving, and talented educator, and a receptive student who feels loved and respected—that matters.
Fast forward to college. Experiences that were not necessarily “big” remain in my memory: returning home at Thanksgiving as a freshman—feeling independent and homesick; discovering with my roommate that gummy bears really do stick to dorm ceilings; asking my professor, as a sophomore, to take his Intro to Clinical Psychology class for seniors—facing my fear of rejection or failure paid off: he became my most important mentor; the fun, long conversations at The Chez coffee house; taking classes that were not required like The Creative Process. Was I wasting time and money? They turned out to be my most memorable courses! And lastly—OK…this one was a big moment: meeting my husband at a happy hour. We didn’t stop talking till 4:00 a.m.
I have heard countless stories of choices made during college:
- The classmate who did not get caught cheating—who got the best grade? He did. But many years later a board denied him from progressing professionally after discovering he had lied about his credentials.
- The friend whose mother ranted to the administration, demanding special treatment, including changing her daughter’s failing grade. This student came to see how always being treated as special was destructive. She wound up creating a profitable college tutoring service.
- The graduate who now enjoys his marriage, children, and career? His archenemy in the dorm responded with empathy by taking away his car keys when he was intoxicated.
Artist and poet Brian Andreas expressed: “Anyone can slay a dragon…but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero….”
When I began college, my dad shared: “If you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person you know.” He also admonished me in every phone call to “be good.” I returned home last December to be with my dad in his final days of life. Most people from my childhood were long gone. On returning to St. Joan of Arc parish for his funeral, any guesses who was at my side, providing me moral support and love?
Yes, Mrs. Hummel. Experiences and relationships in education are unique, and can forever change the fabric of our lives, if we are receptive.
Dare to experience. Dare to open yourself to the goodness. Dare to be vulnerable enough to develop life-changing relationships and experiences.
In the words of philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel: “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”
May your college journey be full: rich with presence and reflected-upon experiences; marked by meaningful relationships; filled with kindness and love…and yes, be sure to throw a party or two!
Professor Helen Marlo directs the Clinical Psychology program at Notre Dame de Namur University. This blog is adapted from the speech she gave at NDNU’s Convocation at the start of fall 2018 semester as part of her accepting the Keller Teaching Excellence Award.
Updated on July 5, 2018
The first sight you see when you arrive on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is often a family of deer grazing, complete with fawns. One spot the deer gravitate to is the area in front of New Hall student residence, where there are apricot, plum, and pear trees. When the fruit is on the branches, the deer come to eat the windfall off the ground. “They also like the cherries that grow by the student apartments,” remarked Chris Komahrens, NDNU’s director of facilities. Probably these tame deer find NDNU a congenial place because just up the hill from the classrooms and residential buildings there is a large natural area with plenty of secluded places.
In addition to deer, there are multitudes of birds at NDNU. On a recent birding walk around campus guided by volunteers from the Sequoia Audubon Society, twenty-three different bird species were spotted in a short time. The sightings included a red-tailed hawk, Anna’s hummingbird, a black phoebe, and an acorn woodpecker.
Some of the birds feed on the campus’s population of salamanders and alligator lizards (tiny reptiles that look like miniature alligators, only a few inches long).
Other species on campus include three different types of squirrels, among them a rather rare black squirrel. The nature area of campus also has a nocturnal population of coyotes and raccoons who avoid human contact. Spotting one is an unusual event, unlike sighting of the deer, who often play and scamper up and down the hills of NDNU.
Posted on June 12, 2018
Tom Stang is the brother of Dorothy Stang (1931–2005), Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, alum of Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), and activist for social change. She lived and worked for forty years in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, starting a farmers union in Pará State, helping to set up twenty-three schools, and teaching sustainable farming techniques. Sister Dorothy was assassinated at the age of 73, shot by gunmen hired by local landowners.
Q: Could you tell us a little about your family and the world that Dorothy Stang grew up in?
Tom Stang: We were a family of nine brothers and sisters, living in the countryside near Dayton, Ohio. It seemed like every two years our parents would have some more fruit on the vine. There were two sets of twins, girls who were four years older than I was, and me and my brother. Dorothy was one of the oldest children, and she and our sister Mary were the nursemaids, the caregivers for the younger ones.
Q: What kind of school did you attend?
Tom Stang: We went to a nearby Catholic school. The building had very few conveniences. There were outdoor privies, and two grades in each classroom, but lots of love from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Q: How did the family react when Dorothy announced that she wanted to enter the convent at age 17?
Tom Stang: We were a religious family. There were aunties who were nuns, and uncles who were priests. Dorothy was nurtured and educated by Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from an early age. When she decided to join the convent, it was a normal, natural thing.
Q: What were some of the influences that shaped her spiritually and politically?
Tom Stang: There were two major influences in Dorothy’s life: the first was the changes in the church that happened as a result of Vatican II [the Second Vatican Council, 1962–65, which called on the faithful to work for justice and bring the values of the Gospel into the world]. The second influence was Dorothy’s sabbatical where she studied creation spirituality with Matthew Fox—her interest in preserving the rainforest was related to that. For Dorothy, creation spirituality worked hand in hand with liberation theology.
Q: What do you think is the legacy of Dorothy’s life?
Tom Stang: I think it’s beautiful that her legacy is being kept alive through the Sister Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement at Notre Dame de Namur University. There’s also the Sister Dorothy Stang Scholarship at NDNU. [The scholarship is awarded to formerly incarcerated women living in a residential program and working toward a university degree; or to students who are refugees, undocumented, or former foster and other emancipated youth in financial need.]
Q: How would you describe Dorothy’s approach to life?
Tom Stang: Dorothy’s purpose in life was to serve others. Our whole family was brought up with that value: two of our sisters became nurses, one became a teacher, two entered the convent. My twin and I both became priests, though I eventually left the priesthood. The other two brothers served in the military during World War II.
Q: What were some of the main focuses of Dorothy’s work?
Tom Stang: She worked to preserve the land rights of poor farmers.
She was also very pro-woman. Dorothy had a reputation for serving the needs of women who were harassed or oppressed, which she did in Brazil. She worked for women’s equality. Sadly, prostitution was also common in the part of Brazil where she chose to live, and Dorothy worked with the prostitutes to educate them and to give them hope. She always tried to be of assistance to those who got off the track.
It hurt Dorothy dearly to see what was going on with deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. She also had a total identification with, and love of the people. Dorothy was a creature in love with God’s creation.
Help preserve Dorothy’s legacy by donating to the Sister Dorothy Stang Scholarship at Notre Dame de Namur University. To make a donation, visit this secure page and select the Sr. Dorothy Stang Scholarship Fund from the drop-down menu.