Women in STEM – How it Went

Good morning friends of Afro Triangle! Yesterday, I got so caught up in the Feminist panel, I forgot to tell you how the STEM Panel went. It was amazing! Seriously, you missed out if you didn’t make it.

All of the women who spoke were very passionate about what they do and very clear about why they do it. Shannon Bonk is working to make the world of tech more human and compassionate. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it makes sense when you think about it. The purpose of technology is to make our lives easier. If we don’t ask ourselves, what actually needs to be easier, we’re just shooting in the dark. Shannon is asking this question. The systems she helps create at Geotech help to solve human problems.

Violeta Garcia is on a mission to make STEM education accessible for everyone. The problem with the way these subjects have been taught in the past is that they have no context. How do you learn about environmental biology without actually going out into the environment? Going out and observing, touching, smelling things, that’s what makes the science make sense. It’s the same with Engineering. You can’t study it in a vacuum. You need real world examples. She often uses stories her Engineer husband tells her in her classroom, because these are real world problems that need solving.

Brittany Bennett is a young woman working in a male dominated field. She spoke of how her education at a women’s college gave her the confidence she needed to enter Civil Engineering. She spoke of instances where she was expected to quietly take notes in meetings with¬†her male colleagues. Then she told us how surprised they were when she spoke up and shared her ideas with the group. She brought home for us the challenges of working as a young woman in this kind of industry.

I loved hearing Briannah Hill’s perspective as a queer woman of color studying a subject that is underrepresented by her group, in a place that is equally underrepresented. She is literally the only woman in her program at CU Boulder. And she is definitely the only woman of color there as well. Her mission is to open doors. If she has to be the first Evolutionary Biologist who is also a queer woman of color, she will do that. Especially if doing so enables and¬†encourages other women like her to enter that field.

We had a small audience of mostly women, and two young girls. Everyone was very engaged, asked great questions and shared their own stories. These ranged from the importance of learning Math and Engineering in a applied manner, to why women tend not to stay in those fields once they’re in. It was a great night and I look forward to our next discussions.

Women in Literature – Wednesday Sept. 21st 5:30-7:30pm
East High School’s Women’s Lit Class – Friday Sept. 23rd 6-8pm
Women in Politics – Friday Sept 30th 6-8pm
Women in the Arts – Wednesday Oct. 5th 6-8pm

I’ll see you there!

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