About Us

Systers History

As of October 2013, 6.1% of declared undergraduates in electrical engineering and computer science majors were women, and only 21.2% of enrolled EECS graduate students were women. In comparison, 48% of the undergraduates enrolled in EECS at Harvey Mudd College are female, so there is clearly no dearth of interest. Social and environmental barriers often discourage women from pursuing careers in electrical engineering, computer science, and related technical fields. Many women walk away from these fields early on due to feelings of isolation, doubt in capability, and perceived lack of belonging.

In response to an Industrial Advisory Board session regarding the gender disparity in the EECS department, seven female graduate students formed Systers: Women in EECS @ UTK to better address the needs of women in our department in 2013. Systers immediately began instilling change in our department by organizing a large-scale community-building celebration named Bazinga! for students and faculty alike in August, 2013, and this welcome-back event has been a tradition for Systers ever since. In addition, one Systers executive board member taught a Lean In Seminar in which undergraduate students could enroll in a book study of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” for course credit. Systers developed a relationship with Lean In Circles early on and served as a face of the nationwide launch of its Women in Computer Science and Engineering chapter one year later.

During its first year, Systers members began conducting outreach events with local middle and high schools to introduce young girls to engineering and computer science. Also, Systers launched its professional development and mentorship programs. Professional development events have included panels on graduate school funding and technical interviews, and Systers’ mentorship program involves assigning mentorship pairs each year in order to provide younger members with experience-based insight.

During its second year, Systers piloted a tutoring program and created an anonymous reporting system in which students could report instances of bias or insensitive remarks that create an uncomfortable environment for women and minorities. In addition, it raised money via a crowd-funding campaign to professionally produce a women in engineering commercial for advertisement on YouTube and local TV stations targeting girls in their teens. For its third year, Systers looks forward to beginning a Circles Program in which groups of women will meet regularly to grow together professionally and to support one another. In addition, Systers plans to launch a Skills Series in which it will hold workshops on important everyday skills for electrical engineers and computer scientists that are not taught in UT’s curricula.

Systers Board 2019-2020

Email us!
systersutk@gmail.com

Lydia San George


President

Surya Manikonda


Vice President

Kainat Bhayani


Treasurer

Razieh Kaviani B.


Secretary

Ria Patel


Communications Chair

Natalie Bogda


Outreach Chair

Sirajum Munira


Mentorship Chair

Dr. James Plank

UT Faculty Advisor