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Celebrating Women's History Month: female engineers at NWTC changing landscape of STEM workforce

Female electrical engineers at NWTC
Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 11:56:21-04

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — Favour Butterfield says this March, she's reflecting on how far women have come in STEM fields.

“Women were limited to traditional roles," she said. "And just seeing that we’ve grown from that time, that’s what women’s history means to me.”

Butterfield, a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, started taking engineering classes when she was still in high school. Now, she's doing her own automation.

“Dream big," she said. "If I didn’t have the passion or the drive, I don’t think I would be here. If you want to pursue stem, go for it. It does not mean you have to be very smart, you have to know how to do math. If you’re passionate about it, you’re going to go far in life.“

Women make up around 27 percent of STEM workers, according to recent U.S. census data, despite making up nearly half of the country’s workforce. In such a male-dominated field, Butterfield didn’t expect to learn from an instructor like Molly Delsart, she said.

“I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer when I was 12," said Delsart. "Which is very rare.“

Delsart’s cousin was an engineer for NASA. This month is about recognizing people like her, she said.

“It’s really important to recognize women in this field," said Delsart. "This is fun and this is exciting. And it gives them opportunities. You get to make the choices.”

In 2021, more and more women are working alongside each other in STEM, said Jill Thiede, Associate Dean of Engineering at NWTC.

“I’ve been in jobs where I’m the only woman," she said. "And you can make it work, but it is really nice to have it where there’s more women who are becoming part of the conversation.”

Butterfield hopes to inspire other young women in the community.

“Staying in a male-dominated industry, that’s hard on its own," she said. "But having another female, like, 'Hey, she can do it, I can do it too.'“