IMSA hosts a conversation about the myths and reality of being a Women in STEM and being the change.
Like most women in a STEM field, I never realized I was a Woman in STEM until I was invited to speak about my experiences working in technology ‘as a woman’. Before this experience, I felt like I was just a geek-nerd, in her twenties in a business-tech world who loved technology, loved people and exploring how people are socialized to use technology.
Today, we are having even more conversations about what it means to be a woman in science, technology engineering, and mathematics. And this is why it is still needed. According to the ESA (2017) in the USA …
- Women hold only 24% of STEM jobs;
- Only 30% of all STEM degree holders are women;
- Women with STEM degrees are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.
YET, Women with STEM jobs earned 35 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.
So. How can we move the statistics? We need to move the conversation and BE BOLD in doing it. We need to BLAST the myths that “females can’t do science or code”; HONOUR the reality that “females are rock solid amazing at science and code” … PLUS we need to share and hear more examples from diverse women who walk the talk and ARE being the change in the world of STEM for the next generation of boys and girls.
These female leaders know what needs to change in attitudes, conditions, culture and work-life-family balance to truly move the statistics. The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), the Illinois’s leading academy for STEM education (Grades 10-12), is doing just this with a series of events and programs designed to change the conversation and the culture of diversity in STEM.
IMSA is the perfect space and fertile ground for these conversations in K-12 education. IMSA has a long, over 30-year history of women leading the academy. Today, some 60% of the senior leadership team is female; 55% of faculty and staff are female and 50/50 ratio of male/female students.
Now those are statistics we love to see.
This past week IMSA held the “Diverse Women in STEM” panel, an event co-sponsored by student clubs BELLAS, Girls IN2 STEM, and PME, and organized by Dr. Adrienne Coleman, Director of Equity and Inclusion.
The panel included five female leaders from the IMSA community including, IMSA assistant principal Diane Hinterlong, IN2 program manager and coordinator of GirlsIN2STEM program, Behati Hartt; IMSA physics faculty member Brooke Schmidt, and Benedictine University biology Professor (and IMSA charter class member) Cheryl Heinz. The panel was chaired by Dr. Kelly Page, Research Fellow and Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) at IMSA. The panel answered questions, discussed personal experiences, and gave advice to about fifty audience members.*
The panelists agreed on the necessity of inspiring more young girls to get involved in STEM and changing the conversation in how we consider the role, needs and impact of women working in STEM and STEM education.
Thank you to Dr. Adrienne Coleman for leading the event organization, and Jean Bigger, Manager and Digital Commons leader at the IRC for creating the perfect space for everyone to come together to share about what it is truly like to be a woman in STEM, the myths, the reality and what we LOVE about it!
*To read more, IMSA student Lauralyn Lin wrote a great article in The Acronym, the student newspaper about the event.