The conference urges female students to consider STEM careers
WARREN, Ohio – While more women are pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields than in the past, only 27% of those working in STEM jobs in 2019 were women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
When teenage girls are deciding what their next step will be after high school, those who don’t have mentors or know women working in STEM will have a much harder time choosing that STEM path on their own.
“We know that women are underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering and math fields, so we want to help those women see their opportunities, so we’re doing this specifically for young women,” said Peggy Shadduck, vice president of regional campuses and Trumbull. Dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University.
He adds that society’s expectations about professions can often affect it.
“The reality is that women and men are capable of doing very different things, and both should pursue the paths that bring them the most joy in their lives and make the contributions they want to make to society,” Shadduck said. he said
About 200 middle and high school girls participating in the STEM TC at KSU’s Trumbull campus had the opportunity to meet more than 30 women in STEM fields Friday and hear how they can use their interests for rewarding careers.
“We call it STEM TC,” Shadduck said. “It’s an opportunity for young women interested in a STEM career to delve into those interests and see some of the options they might have, both their own interests and then explore things they may not have known about before – learn more about where they can go with their lives and their careers.”
As the morning’s commencement speaker, Shadduck explained to students the importance of exploring the variety of careers available to them. Although chemistry, biology and physics are the basics, Shadduck said there are specialties in understanding those subjects that can lead to many different fields.
“You have to love what you do,” Shadduck told the students. “If you’re not getting personal satisfaction from what you’re doing, you’re in the wrong career. … You want to get up in the morning and be ready to say, ‘Yeah, I might have some big challenges at work today, but I’m ready to go.’
While stressing the importance of choosing a career that gives them energy, Shadduck suggested students consider other factors when making career decisions. For example, do they enjoy developing or applying new knowledge? Thinking or working? Days with less or more variety? Do they work well individually or in groups? Do they want more or less income?
As an example of the difference between the two important careers, Shadduck talked about being a garbage collector compared to being a doctor, noting that both are very important to human health. But she challenged the girls to think about which career would be more personally satisfying.
They talked about how women in many STEM fields energize their careers and keep going, even when things get tough.
STEM TC students had the opportunity to meet and hear first-hand from women working in STEM fields including health care, criminal intelligence, veterinary technology, pharmacy, chemistry, physics, engineering, radiology and mathematics. During these sessions, the speakers talked about what they do and what others who study the same things they do can do.
At the end of the day, students heard from Jennifer Clark, director of manufacturing at Intel, which is creating “Silicon Heartland,” a new factory in the New Albany area that will help address US innovation and supply chain gaps.
Clark gave the students another list of jobs—possible careers they could enter at the company, which aims to have the same percentage of women in its workforce as its population.
This will require more girls and women to embrace STEM careers in the future and feel they belong.
In a Q&A with six current students studying various STEM subjects, including chemistry, neuroscience, aerospace engineering and molecular biology, two of them admitted that they are considering starting a coffee shop in those moments of doubt that a class or program has become tough.
But each of them explained to the girls the importance of persevering and achieving the degree, even in those moments of doubt.
“You know you’re here,” said Kristin Sobie, a PhD student at KSU, noting that STEM is still a male-dominated field, but women can love science, math and engineering as much as the next student.
Pictured above: Peggy Shadduck, vice president for regional campuses and dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University in Trumbull.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.