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College of Science & Mathematics

The Quiet Side

The projector screen slid down the wall and computer fans whirled, as students prepared for just another presentation – their shoulders hunched and eyes closing; in just two minutes however, spines rose upright and eyes brightened from drooping to entranced, as students learned the power of nonverbal communication.
In an effort to encourage a larger female presence in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] disciplines, the "Why So Slow" Learning Community, represented by Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Tabbetha Dobbins, and the College of Communications, represented by Assistant Professor of Communications, Harriet Benavidez, came together to explore the quiet side of conversation. The Society of Women Engineers, a worldwide organization, with a chapter at Rowan, was also a sponsor of the program.
The topic of discussion was nonverbal communication -- "how your actions play in to people's opinions of you, and your opinions of yourself --" as Benavidez explained it. Students were shown a TED [Technology, Entertainment and Design] Talk, entitled: "Fake it ‘til you become it: Power Poses Visualized." TED is an international organization that encourages interdisciplinary talks across the globe, to all persons of race, gender, socioeconomic status and ideas; this TED talk featured Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy.
The 20 minute talk left students nodding their heads in agreement with Cuddy's arguments about confidence, and the ways in which women can compete in a male dominated workplace.
"There tends to be a discrepancy between males and females in the STEM fields," Dobbins addressed the multi-gendered audience, "and what we hope both women and men take from this, is to empower [yourselves] to become what you wish to become, and to be understanding of others."
Students shared their personal stories of empowerment and struggles in the classroom when it came to confidence, to which Benavidez encouraged students to not shy away from challenges, and to become the best they can be, as both males and females.
"Your generation is going to be at the helm very soon, and each one of you has an idea about how to change our world," Benavidez said. "Whether you're a woman, or man, each of you needs to feel empowered to express yourself, as well as witness the expression of others."
"Why So Slow" is an interdisciplinary community on all of Rowan's campuses, with the aim to develop strategies which address the specific challenges of women in STEM at Rowan University. The learning community looks to define the barriers that many women face when entering such fields, and how to remove them.