Paving their own paths — a look at the next generation of women in STEM

Senior Taylor Humm is a busy industrial systems engineering (ISE) major, which she says is the perfect blend of engineering and business. After graduation she will work with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles programs for the next two years, then return to OU for her MBA.

Hanna Trzeciakiewic

Hanna Trzeciakiewic, senior, is an Honors College student studying biochemistry. She is also an undergraduate research assistant, chemistry ambassador for the American Chemical Society and has won multiple awards for math, science and writing.

She also spoke at Monday’s panel, sharing things from an undergraduate’s perspective.

Trzeciakiewic was proactive with her math and science education in high school and took AP courses, allowing her to enter her freshman year with 32 credits. She said in the three years since then she has never felt out of place or separated by her gender, even when in labs full of male students.

“I didn’t realize there was such a disparity in previous years,” Trzeciakiewic said.

She also said she was lucky and grateful to have talented mentors. “Our chemistry department here is just filled with phenomenal women who are inspirations in themselves.”

She will be continuing on to a Ph.D. at OU. When she applied, she said administrators looked at everything she had and didn’t discriminate. Out of the 1,200 students that applied, she was one of the 75 or so to get in, and she felt it was a fair and unbiased selection.

“It’s nice knowing that they do not stereotype if you are a female,” Trzeciakiewic said.


Taylor Humm

Taylor Humm, also a senior, has powered her way through OU and will continue to power through her field after graduation. She is an industrial and systems engineering (ISE) major, which combines engineering and business, something she says is the perfect blend for her. She’s an active student and has played for the volleyball team for four years, is the president of the Student-Athletes Advisory Committee and is in multiple other student groups related to her field.

Graduation’s close, but Humm’s already got the next few years planned out: she’s previously interned with Chrysler and will be returning for two years, rotating through different programs with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA. After that she said she will come back to OU for her Masters in Business Administration, and once she has that she will work for FCA once more.

“I think women in STEM are up and coming and can offer a different perspective on STEM industries now than what had previously been accepted,” Humm said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for women to be in these types of majors because women can pave a new route of opportunity for others who are interested in STEM majors.”


Kayla Owens

Kayla Owens is another ISE major that is ready to graduate. She started off in mechanical engineering and fell in love with her ISE introduction course, “most interested in improving processes, improving efficiencies and even going into any facet of industry.”

She plans on going to General Motors in June and will participate in its rotational program for the first year and join a specific plant in the second year.

Like Humm, she’s a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, plays soccer, is treasurer of the Society of Women Engineering and is involved in a number of other academic groups and councils.

When it comes to the workplace, “women have a different mindset and way of thinking” that creates new ideas and creates a good atmosphere of change and innovation, she said.

She said she hasn’t faced a lot of gender-based stereotyping while at OU, especially in the ISE department.

“There is none of that there,” Owens said. “I think there’s more girls in the ISE department than any other department of engineering — it’s very positive.”