“Women Who Code” new club provides a safe space for female STEM students

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

Julia Nelson is extending her arms out to the hands of STEM-minded women and non-binary individuals of EWU through her newly-born student club, “Women Who Code.”

Nelson has an educational background in electronics repair in which she used to fix cell phones for a living. It was the insufficient pay she was receiving that brought her back to school at EWU to pursue a computer science major and information security minor.

Through her experiences, Nelson not only developed a dedication to computer programming, but was moved to uplift women and non-binary people in STEM-related fields, like herself, who may face disadvantages in the workforce.

“Women in STEM are not getting the respect they deserve and the pay they deserve, so they are having to outwork their counterparts,” Nelson said.

Self-taught in coding and programming, Nelson hopes to lessen the intimidation of coding—and STEM fields in general—to women looking to pursue, or at least are interested in, these fields of study.

“It’s a safe space for women to get together and code,” said Nelson. “If you need help with your code, or you are interested in programming but not so sure, we can help you. If you are applying somewhere and not sure if you will get equal pay, we will advocate for you. We are there to support you.”

Nelson also mentioned the idea of a group programming project that would bring a sense of unity, teamwork and companionship to the club. She said that discussion will come later on into the club’s establishment.

Starting a club at a university can be a tedious process for students. It becomes even more difficult when that process is executed during dead week and finals week, as “Women Who Code” was.

According to Nelson, despite the challenges, especially with the timing of the club’s start, everything seems to be coming together very smoothly.

Nelson is working closely with Becky Standiford, the vice president of the club, along with a few other initial club members to figure out the final details,  like where club meetings will be held and who will hold the remaining officer positions.

The club is hoping to rent out a computer lab in the library, or a room in the tech building. Nelson said that she would keep the location information up to date.

Nelson is working to create a very open and welcoming space for prospective members.

“All they have to do is show up Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.,” said Nelson. “Even if people are just interested in coding, or robotics projects, or any of the STEM subjects, they are welcome.”