Celebrating 100 Women Leaders in STEMJuly 13, 2012
One hundred powerful women in a room together — what a sight to behold! These women, all attendees of the inaugural U.S. News and World Report STEM Summit conference, were celebrating not only each other but also the progress that has been made for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The conference, put together by STEMConnector.org and many other sponsors and partners, was a gathering to discuss STEM on a national level that has not been seen before. The goal of the event was to bring together stakeholders from as many different aspects of the STEM arena as possible, and with 1,600 attendees, it was one of the largest such gatherings in the United States so far.
The conference as a whole was truly indicative of the country’s snowballing interest in STEM education, and attendees included celebrities like basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Laura Kaeppeler, the current Miss America; and STEM icons such as Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics.
The theme of gender and STEM ran throughout the conference, and with panels like The Changing Face of STEM and Cultural, Ethnic, and Demographic Strengths in Raising STEM Awareness, it was obvious that the business, higher education, and K–12 communities are aware of and actively working to bring more women and girls into the STEM pipeline.
The ultimate goal of STEMConnector.org is to help coordinate and encourage those communities by bringing together information about organizations, business, and education in one place online. The conference and the work of STEM Connector reflect a broader, national conversation about how to get and keep kids interested in STEM while also bringing real-world skills into school curricula. At the conference, teachers, principals, and faculty brought to light why it is critical that all levels of the educational system and professional arenas continue to focus on this issue. On the front lines, they continue to see girls internalize the idea that these careers are not for them or be deterred by social pressure to conform to outdated gender stereotypes.
STEM Connector also put together the impressive 100 Women Leaders in STEM publication, which honors women in three categories — nonprofit, for profit, and government — and includes AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman. She is in good company — the publication features women with impressive accomplishments from start to finish.
The women who attended the reception honoring the 100 Women Leaders in STEM were truly a testament to the changes that have occurred thanks to Title IX and other advances in education and culture. The event was a rare opportunity to be in a room with so many talented women in STEM and to celebrate their accomplishments. I was proud to know that AAUW was included on the list and has played a critical role in breaking down the barriers that stopped women from succeeding in these fields for so long. And we will continue to do so in the years to come!