Women in STEAM Panel Discussion

Jen & Maggie here –

There was a statewide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) festival that occurred at the end of October. Last spring, Maggie and I started to plan how we could contribute to this festival. We wanted to host something targeting young students and get them excited about continuing their education in the STEAM fields. We teamed up with the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture to host a “Women in STEAM Panel Discussion“.

We spent a considerable amount of time searching for panelists but eventually ended up with a planetary geoscientist, paleobiologist, robotics engineer, industrial engineer, and biochemist! The career stage of these women all varied, an aspect I found to be key on this panel. I was the paleobiologist on the panel and Maggie was our fearless moderator. Prior to the panel we created trading cards for each of the panelists with an image, their name, and title on the front and the back had a short biography and what facets of STEAM their work represents.

Example of the trading cards created for the STEAM panel discssuion.

We wanted to showcase the diversity of projects and fields that really tie into STEAM. As a paleobiologist, I spend much of my time looking at rocks and fossils but I also spend an immense amount of time creating complex 3-dimensional models to get more information on extinct animals. Without some artistic creativity and innovation, these models would be difficult to assemble.

The panel discussion began with a 3-5 minute brief history introduction about how we got to where we are today. A main goal of this panel was to showcase how different everyone’s journeys are, there is not one specific way to achieve your goals but usually it’s messy and a bit challenging. After the introductions, Maggie led us through some questions that we had already came up with to help move the panel along. We covered questions such as “do you still learn new things?” to “what can current STEAM students do if they feel they are not succeeding?”

We opened the floor up for questions as well and had a very productive discussion. Topics from the audience ranged from challenges faced as a women in our career positions to consciousness in robots. Events like this are not only beneficial to the audience but also to the panelists! Maggie and I both had a wonderful time and learned a lot about some very successful women and left feeling very empowered.

Click here for an article about the event from the Daily Beacon.

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