Contraception: A Brief Handbook



Story By: Lily Patterson

Ah, yes. Contraception, our old friend.  Of the host of considerations taken by sexually active college students throughout the years, it’s remained one of the most frustrating, yet important pre-coitus precautions. With so many young, ambitious, libido-charged individuals all in one place, it’s imperative you and your partner strike a balance between enjoyment and protection. There are plenty of stressors awaiting you (sorry), but safe sex shouldn’t be one of them. More pointedly, I’d venture that an unexpected pregnancy at this stage in your life – whether it’s you or your partner – isn’t so ideal. Here’s where contraception comes in.

It often seems as though the pharmaceutical industry is deliberately attempting to flummox us with the myriad options out there. The flowery-synchronized- swimmer-commercial trope of “Which birth control is right for me?” is tired. But with a little digging, it’s a question with a unique answer for all of us, no matter our gender (Roger that: men included).

In short, I’m going to try and make the question of contraception a little easier. Here are a handful of the best options out there, as well as a few resources to aid you in your quest to avoid buns in the oven, minus the actual bread kind.

1) The Condom

4.0 stars

Pros: Old Faithful. There’s a reason they’ve been around so long (the 16 th century, in fact). They’re the package deal: birth control and effective protection against most STIs all in one. In fact, they’re the only method of protecting against STIs, aside from abstinence. Therefore, the condom is an excellent complement to all other forms of birth control. This stretchy little guy acts as barrier contraception, meaning there are no hormones at play here, just a wall. It’s also the easiest existing option for guys to get involved in contraception. Cabbage patch/running man/dance in some other form for equality!

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Society of Women Engineers Executive Board

Society of Women Engineers Executive Board

Story by Sammy Scheman

I don’t know much about the field of STEM. I have never been interested math and science, so I never once tried to learn more about STEM or look into a major in that discipline. However, while talking to one of my best friends in the engineering school about her lack of female friends in her major, I realized that I was part of the problem. Women are the minority in STEM, but other women, including myself, don’t help the situation. With this in mind, I asked different women in the Engineering School about what helps them create a cohesive support system within this male dominated field. The Society for Women Engineers was the overwhelming response, so I talked to the president, a fourth year student, Rachel Kumar.

1. What is your position in the organization and what do your responsibilities entail?
As the president of SWE at UVA, I identify strategic goals and lead their execution. I also serve as the liaison between national and regional levels of SWE, and I am the main point of contact for other organizations, including the Center for Diversity in Engineering and the Engineering School.

2. What are the goals of the Society for Women Engineers? What does your organization do to achieve these goals?
We aim to inspire women to achieve their full potential in STEM fields, in which women are traditionally underrepresented. Our goal is to support the success of women in engineering through professional development, social activities, and community outreach. Over the past few years we’ve promoted professional skills development through workshops in design thinking, interviewing, entrepreneurship, and more. Our social activities include Charlottesville must-dos like apple picking at the scenic Carter Mountain and hiking Humpback, and also unique opportunities like having dinner at the Dean of Engineering’s house in the spring. We also have especially strong outreach programs.

3. How does your club differ from other engineering clubs?
SWE differs from other engineering organizations because we don’t necessarily focus on the technical aspects of engineering, but more on invaluable soft skills such as networking and effective communication that are often overlooked in an academic setting. SWE is also unique in that it provides the opportunity for women to network and collaborate across disciplines; our members come from all engineering majors. Finally, what’s wonderful about SWE is that members’ involvement in SWE can continue beyond college– no matter what stage of life you’re in you’ll have a support system and people advocating for your success.

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Combatting Homogeneity in STEM: Impressions of Female Acceptance in the Sciences at U.Va. and Beyond

Story by Carly Gorelick

It is no secret that our university struggles with a lack of diversity. Statistics released by the University continually demonstrate homogeneity of both the student body and faculty. While the issue of diversity at U.Va. can produce enough commentary for multiple articles, this piece seeks to address the lack of faculty gender diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) departments. To accomplish this, I interviewed two female faculty at the university to inquire about their experiences and the specific ways that prejudice has affected them in their fields and at U.Va.



Guess which 2014 faculty population graph represents the gender ratio of U.Va.’s engineering program and which depicts the nursing program.

The ease in which one can distinguish between the gender ratio of the two graphs above is disturbing. Gendered assumptions of academic abilities and tendencies continue to damage gender relations and uphold restrictive roles, even if we are not actively considering these biases. For instance, as long as we continue to internalize that men are not nurses, we begin to believe all men have some qualities inherent to masculinity that make them incompetent nurses. When we believe this, men may forgo nursing dreams. While we may never vocalize this directly, these stereotypes effectively work to undermine which academic tracks different genders choose to pursue at U.Va.

Both Kristin Courtney, a U.Va. graduate student currently pursuing a P.hd. in Mathematics and a female full-time professor in the Physics Department, who wished to remain anonymous, recognize the problems faced by women in STEM programs. Though they both speak from different backgrounds, one as a student and the other as a teacher at U.Va., they describe many similar experiences and thoughts about the diversity of their programs.

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Iris celebrates women in STEM!

Celebrate Women in STEM

Left to right: Our moderator – Lisa Messeri; our speakers – Amy LaViers, Kim Wilkens and Pam Norris.

Story by: Alaina Segura
Photos by: Michelle Cho
Video by: Chuck Moran

In the United States today, women make up an estimated 47 percent of the workforce.  In the science and engineering field, however, women are far less represented than men.  According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women hold only 25 percent of occupations in computer and mathematical sciences, and only 13 percent of occupations in engineering.

With such an underrepresentation of women in these fields, Iris Magazine and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center find it imperative to celebrate the accomplishments of women who are triumphing in overcoming gender biases and bridging the gender gap in the STEM fields.

In honor of these women, Iris, supported by the U.Va. Parent’s Committee and the Women’s Center, hosted the Celebration for Women in STEM on Wed., April 1, 2015.  The event, which took place in the early evening at Newcomb Commonwealth Room, brought together students from organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and Alpha Omega Epsilon for a dialogue and networking opportunity with women working in STEM.  Three women from the Charlottesville and U.Va. community, Pam Norris, Kim Wilkens, and Amy LaViers, shared with us their life experiences and achievements in the field of STEM.

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Join Iris Magazine in celebrating the accomplishments of women in STEM

Story by: Alaina Segura

Iris Magazine will host a “Celebration for Women in STEM,” co-sponsored by the U.Va. Parents Committee and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center. The event will take place in the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall on the Grounds of the University of Virginia from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Last February, Iris held a similar event celebrating the achievements of women in the Darden i.Lab program, whose focus is to provide education and support for new entrepreneurs. The staff of Iris was so thrilled with the dialogue at this event that they decided to host another similar event in order to continue conversations about the rewards and challenges of working in a male-dominated field.

Amy LaViers, Kim Wilkens and Pam Norris, three women from the Charlottesville area, will be speaking about their experiences working in STEM.

You do not need to be a science or math major to enjoy this celebration!  The event is open to anyone with an interest in the STEM fields, so join us to learn more about the accomplishments of these women in our community.  Appetizers will also be served, so no one will leave hungry!

All guests should RSVP to Agnes Filipowski, Women’s Center Communications Assistant / Iris Magazine Editor, at ASAP.

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U.Va. works to encourage women to pursue engineering


Photo courtesy of Jill Tietjen
U.Va. alumna Jill Tietjen, along with current U.Va. engineering professor Joanne McGrath Cohoon, work to encourage women to consider careers in STEM.

With the ongoing national debate about the slow progression of women representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and SBE (social and behavioral sciences and economics) fields of academia, colleges and universities are launching initiatives to create more opportunities.

U.Va. has taken steps in the right direction.

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