Strengthening the impact of women in STEMM to build a more sustainable future

ASU PhD candidate selected to leadership initiative Homeward Bound

May 24, 2021

Women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM) fields, especially in leadership roles. According to a recent report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, there are more than twice as many men with college degrees working in science and engineering fields than women. And the women who do find themselves working in these industries may face sexism in the workplace.

It’s something that Noa Bruhis experienced firsthand while working as an engineer.  Noa Bruhis Noa Bruhis Download Full Image

“I was feeling pretty alone as a female engineer and dealing with blatant sexism,” Bruhis said. “I designed an environmental sensor, entered it into an international challenge and made it as a finalist. But when I had a problem with my sensor and needed more help, my company disbanded what was left of my team and cut my budget. Some of the feedback I got from one of the senior leadership was that if my project wasn’t happening and I needed something to do, the lab could use some cleaning, and I was welcome to grab a broom.” 

It was then she decided to leave her job and come to Arizona State University to earn a PhD in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society in the College of Global Futures.

“I picked a program that would put me out of my comfort zone and throw me into a different style of thinking," Bruhis said. "I was in courses and conversations that I had never been in before and never thought about before, and some of them attacked my old ways of thinking, which is healthy. I was drawn to the program and the people in it because it was so different from what I knew, and I would have the opportunity to grow.”

In the program, Bruhis learned about Homeward Bound, a global leadership initiative for women in STEMM. The program brings together a diverse cohort of women from around the world who are working to build a healthier and more sustainable future. It provides personal development and leadership tools, coaching, and networking opportunities through online content and collaborative learning. The 12-month program culminates with an expedition to Antarctica. As part of the sixth cohort of Homeward Bound, Bruhis will share her experiences and expertise while finding support and guidance as a woman in STEMM. 

“One of the slogans of the program is ‘Mother Nature needs her daughters.’ Of course Mother Nature needs all her children, but many of her sons are already in place," Bruhis said. "People who aren’t (cisgender) male will have extra hurdles in STEMM. With this program, we’re able to validate those experiences and acknowledge that the challenges we face are different than those of our male counterparts. So let’s figure out what to do about it and make some moves.”

The program emphasizes a model of leadership, hard work and perseverance, something Bruhis has demonstrated throughout her life. She is a first-generation American and a whitewater rafting guide, and she rebuilt a car in high school. During her time at ASU, she has studied natural resource extraction and co-produced a documentary about helium extraction in northeastern Arizona. Her current research focuses on participatory filmmaking and finding ways for people with different ideologies to have more meaningful and equitable conversations with each other. She is also a Knowledge Mobilization Award winner for her work to engage with communities. With her unique and diverse science background, Bruhis hopes to bring a different perspective to the Homeward Bound program.

“I’ve found my ability to ask questions that others may not have been trained to ask is unique. As engineers, we’re often trained to ask, 'How can we solve this problem?' not 'Should we?' or 'Who gets a voice in that decision?' I’m excited to help bridge that gap.”

Ashley Richards

Communications Specialist , School for the Future of Innovation in Society


Magda Hinojosa named director of ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies

May 24, 2021

Magda Hinojosa, professor at Arizona State University, has been named the new director for the School of Politics and Global Studies, an academic unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Hinojosa’s approach to leadership is motivated by her background. As a Mexican American woman who grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border, Hinojosa was drawn to researching marginalized groups and the processes and procedures that can bring people into positions of power. Hinojosa credits her research with igniting her passion for administration and points out that studying why it matters who sits at the decision-making table has motivated her to step into leadership roles. Magda Hinojosa Magda Hinojosa, professor at Arizona State University, has been named the new director for the School of Politics and Global Studies, an academic unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Her research focuses on women’s political representation in Latin America, with her most recent book (co-authored with ASU Professor Miki Caul Kittilson), “Seeing Women, Strengthening Democracy: How Women in Politics Foster Connected Citizens,” showing that having women in political office affects citizens' political engagement. She is also the author of “Selecting Women, Electing Women: Political Representation and Candidate Selection in Latin America” and numerous journal articles and popular press pieces.

Hinojosa, who received her PhD in political science from Harvard University in 2005, joined ASU as a faculty member in 2007. Prior to being named director, Hinojosa served as interim director of the School of Politics and Global Studies, a position she started in July 2020. She also previously held a number of administrative appointments at ASU, including associate director of undergraduate studies and director of graduate studies with the School of Politics and Global Studies and dean’s fellow in The College.

“Dr. Hinojosa brings with her a wealth of administrative experience and insight into the School of Politics and Global Studies,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in The College. “She is also the ideal scholar and visionary to lead the school as they level up and take on some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

As director, she will continue the work she’s already started while tackling new initiatives. Partnering with a diverse group of alumni, donors and stakeholders, she created the School of Politics and Global Studies Advisory Board as part of a broader focus on community engagement. The board held their first official meeting in February and will continue to meet quarterly. The group provides linkages to the broader community, gives the school insight into how to better prepare students for a changing world and brings new ideas to the school’s leadership.

Beyond building the school’s relationship with community members, Hinojosa plans to continue expanding the school’s academic offerings and programs, and making these more broadly accessible to students. She recently developed the School of Politics and Global Studies Director's Graduate Scholarship, which supports the school’s growing population of online master’s degree students. The school also has expanded its lecture series over the past two semesters — hosting its 10th public talk over the past year on March 30 — and created opportunities for intellectual engagement for students, alumni and community members.   

“The work that we do here in the School of Politics and Global Studies prepares students to tackle the most significant challenges of our day — from systemic racism against our communities of color to flagrant violations of democratic norms and ongoing crises fueled by climate change. I’m committed to finding new ways to share the exciting work that we do in the school with the broader community,” Hinojosa said.

She is excited for the hard work that is to come in her new role as director because she knows she can help make a difference. 

“It’s an incredible honor to serve as director of the School of Politics and Global Studies, and I am excited to lead us toward even greater things,” she said.

Matt Oxford

Assistant Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, College of Global Futures