Women in STEM Summit Hosted by UCLA Students Returns for Second Year
The April 7-8 conference brought together dozens of speakers in 28 sessions. The event was once again aimed at helping attendees navigate career paths, from high school to undergraduate and graduate studies, as well as post-graduation careers.
This year’s WiSTEM planning team was made up of students from various departments at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering as well as physical science students from UCLA and Brown University. The group has sought to expand this year’s conference lineup by introducing new speakers and topics.
“We’re trying to approach some of these topics from a different perspective and from a different lens so that we can get a fuller picture for individuals to try to get lessons or potential opportunities,” said Maggie Fox, Ph. RE. student and the chief coordinator of the event.
“We’re trying to approach some of these topics from a different perspective and from a different lens so that we can get a fuller picture for individuals to try to gain lessons or potential opportunities,” said Maggie Fox.
WiSTEM 2022 began with an introduction by Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean Jayathi Murthy of UCLA Samueli. A highly accomplished engineer herself, Murthy shared with participants her experience as an engineering student in India, where she faced challenges as one of the few women in the engineering program.
“Some of you [might] I saw that movie ‘Hidden Figures’ – Katherine Johnson having to run half a mile to go to the bathroom – that was my experience as a student,” Murthy said.
Since becoming dean, Murthy said she has made it her goal to continue to expand access to engineering for underrepresented groups through initiatives such as [email protected] to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM.
“Remember, true inclusion is deeper than the numbers,” she said, bringing back her message about inclusion and access to engineering and IT. “Remember those we rely on today and pay it for those who will follow.”
Day one events included science demonstrations on remote sensing using Google Earth’s new time-lapse feature, surface tension on super hydrophobic surfaces like Teflon, and plasma physics. Speakers also gave presentations on salary negotiation, balancing personal and professional priorities, and funding college education.
This year’s keynote speaker, Hon. Heidi Shyu MS ’81, engineer. ’82, had an illustrious career in industry and public service. She is currently the U.S. Department of Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering in the Biden administration.making her the highest ranked Asian American civilian in the Pentagon.
In her position, Shyu has interacted with senior officials from around the world and recently met her counterparts from the UK and Australia, who are also women.
“The fact that three women can be their country’s defense technology chiefs shows that women have come a long way,” Shyu said. “Celebrate women in leadership roles like these; I know it’s not always easy to get there.
Shyu also served as Assistant Secretary of the United States Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology in the Department of Defense during the Obama administration from 2012 to 2016. Working in high-level positions in the Department of Defense requires that Shyu was in the public spotlight while working with a wide range of technologies, but she saw these experiences as her chance to show her gratitude.
“This country has given me so many opportunities to excel in my career; it was time to give back,” Heidi Shyu said.
“This country has given me so many opportunities to excel in my career; it was time to give back,” Shyu said.
Early in her engineering career, Shyu said she had to work beyond expectations to earn the respect of her male colleagues, citing a project in which she had to take a lot of risk to make a prototype conform to specifications. specifications so demanding that his colleagues told him it was not possible.
“We did what was considered…mission impossible,” Shyu said.
The second day of the conference brought together scholars from as far away as Norway, with panels and breakout sessions on navigating graduate school and professional networking.
The two-day conference focused on equity, diversity and inclusion, with workshops on intersectionality, alliance and microaggressions. It was important to open up the discussion to understand identities beyond a single axis of representation, said Anaelia Ovalles, who holds a doctorate in computer science. student at UCLA and chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference.
“No matter the ‘how’, our ‘why’ [for EDI programs] remains the same: to open a productive exchange of knowledge from diverse backgrounds, to expand and even challenge our current beliefs about how best to carry and support not only ourselves but also each other in the sciences”, said Ovalles.
Now that the conference has been established as an annual event, WiSTEM organizers look forward to expanding programming and hosting in-person events for future WiSTEM conferences.
Natalie Weber contributed to this story.