Yes We Can: Women in STEM

– Hello, and welcome to our
first Hawkeye Lunch and Learn of the semester, 2017. We’re very glad that all of you could join us on this very cold day. This event is part of our
spring, 2017 themed semester, Our Lives Online. This particular themed semester
deals with the internet and technology and
we’re very excited today to have with us Dr. Peoples,
who will be highlighting this particular topic of importance. If you have not heard
about our themed semester, there is a table as you leave today and lots of information that
you can get on numerous events that will be taking place
around this particular theme. I would like to now
introduce Tonya Peoples. I think it’s a wonderful
honor to have her here today, along with her panel, and I will tell you just a little bit about
her so that you can see all of the accomplishments
that she has made that are incredibly
important to our campus. She became the very first associate dean for diversity and outreach
here at the university in the college of engineering. She joined the department of chemical and biochemical engineering in 1995, and in her 21 years
here, she has served to advance diversity, promote opportunities for all students to pursue education, and particularly careers in STEM. As an individual researcher,
an administrator, and a leader in the state and our nation, she has made an impact,
improving the STEM pipeline through local partnerships,
institutional leadership and effective collaborations. In her work, she has advanced faculty, staff, and student activities,
creating a very welcoming environment for diverse students in STEM, and she’s really been a
game-changer in the college of engineering, where she has increased their enrollment by record numbers, and has also, very importantly, increased the number
of women who are going into engineering and
also minority students. Today, she has invited, as I said, a number of her colleagues
to be a part of a panel, and I will allow her to
further introduce them to you, and at this point, please
welcome Professor Peoples. (applause) – So, I’m delighted to be here
today to talk to you about women and technology; that’s
the topic of our conversation today, and what I would
like to do is spend, maybe, a short bit of time giving
you some inspiration and sharing some stories
and getting us to think about how we as a community
can encourage and advance women in science and technology, particularly technology that
we’re talking about today. I have a few people that are
gonna be a part of a panel, and we’re gonna open it up
for us to really talk about women in technology from a
variety of perspectives, as we go through our journey, this
afternoon, with each other. As Linda mentioned, this is
part of the themed semester. And with this idea of Our Lives Online, it was really humbling to be invited and to be able to
participate in discussing how women engage with technology. And there are gonna be
some other events coming up that are gonna be marquee on that area, in terms of thinking about how we engage with technology, and how
it can help us create better communication with each other in social media environments
and in technology development, advancing our communities. How fitting, we have a technical issue. (scattered laughter) Given that we have a
little bit of limited time, I think I wanna go ahead
and talk a little bit, I have some images that’ll
help stimulate some of our conversation as we
get our projection going, but really, what I wanna do at the outset is to define some terminology. We tend to, in my area of
the world, use STEM a lot. And we take for granted
that people in our community really know what that means
and what we’re talking about. And when we talk about STEM, most of us who are sort of in this
area of doing outreach and trying to engage students
to come into certain careers, we’re really thinking
about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,
and these are areas where there’s a lot of
economic growth and development and some of the future
opportunities for jobs, and so there’s a lot of
motivation to get more students of all demographics
participating in STEM studies and STEM careers, and
we have been doing that. In the college of engineering,
we do a lot of outreach in the state of Iowa, through
a variety of K-12 programs. We do work to try and encourage
women and underrepresented minorities and all US
students to go into STEM, and when we’re going out in
the state and we’re doing this, we’re collecting data about who’s engaging with the things that we’re doing. So it may be robotics, it
may be computer science. It may be polymers or
some type of chemistry. All of the things that we’re doing, we’re really engaging the
University of Iowa community. So we have very passionate
students and faculty and staff who are going
out and doing hands-on demonstrations, they’re helping teachers, training teachers to
deliver STEM outreach. And I think, last year, we probably touched on the order of
145,000 or more students, and teachers, and citizens
in the state of Iowa. Reaching, I’m not sure,
maybe close to 88 counties, in terms of going out and
engaging people in this area of science, technology,
engineering and mathematics. And there’s quite a bit of
funding that’s associated with that, from the federal government and from state government,
because this is seen as something that’s to
enhance the workforce. So, the main topic that
we wanna ask ourselves and we wanna discuss is: how can we, as community members, parents, partners, colleagues, teachers,
friends, encourage women to pursue STEM careers
and to go into technology? And before, I wanna hit on three themes that I think are related to that, and those themes are
that we need to inspire, and that means encouraging
people to do the next step on their journey in STEM, whether
it’s taking the next level of math, or applying for
a certain type of job, or pursuing a certain type of training, we wanna inspire people to
do that next step in STEM. And the other piece that
we wanna do is we wanna acknowledge the people who
have entered into STEM. And so, in doing that work
of acknowledging folks that have been in STEM,
it’s to tell the story that women have been in
technology for decades, and they’ve been very successful, and they’ve navigated that,
and sharing those stories is an important part of
giving people role models or aspiration to say: oh, I can do it too. And that’s a very important
piece of telling the story of women who’ve been in
the technology field. And the third thing that I
think is an important theme is connecting people, and particularly, connecting women in the
technology community, as a community of people
doing fun stuff that advances society, that helps us make
the world a better place. And that idea of connecting
women at all levels is important in terms of
helping women navigate the climate that exists in technology. And we’re gonna talk a little bit, also, about the things that impact women as they’re pursuing technology fields. But before we get into the
“how”, that’s our work, to get others to think
about how do we do it. Sometimes we have to
answer the question: why? Because there are people who still doubt. Well, why should we push
women into technology. And even with that language,
there’s an assumption made about women that I think,
that’s what we’re trying to think about: how do we
approach countering those things? And so we think about women
going into technology, the reason we want to have
more women in technology is we need an educated workforce
to carry out and solve the problems of the future, and
we don’t have enough people. And if we look at the data
about women in computer science or technology-related
fields, we can see that, if we compare 1985, 37
percent of the women getting bachelor’s degrees, or 37 percent of the people getting bachelor’s degrees in computer science were women. In 2014, 17 percent of the
people getting bachelor’s degrees in computer science were women. And so what we’re seeing is
we’re going the wrong direction. And we want to think about
how we turn that around. So that’s a motivation for why. Okay, another motivation for why, again, as we mentioned, as a workforce, is that that’s the area of growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
identifies computer science, engineering, mathematical
sciences, as places where the new jobs are going to be, where we’re replacing
people who are retiring, but we’re also creating new companies that are doing the internet of things, and we need people who
have those skillsets, and so we want people to move into that. And if women were fully
represented in technology, in those fields, in STEM,
we’d have about 1.8 million more skilled workers in our country. And so, those are some of
the motivations for that. And there’s great groups,
non-profit groups, federal agencies that are studying this, whether it’s the Bureau
of Labor Statistics or the National Science Foundation, or foundations that are
funded by the companies who want to have people
working here in the US. So now, we can get back into the how, and the question is:
how can we, as parents, teachers, colleagues,
partners, community members, advance and support women in technology. And we can come back to
that idea of inspiration and think about the
idea that the job market is only gonna really
be attractive to maybe some parents and some employers in terms of inspiring people to go into a field. And we have to tell the story that working in technology is fun, right? That’s the part that we
want people to engage with. That this is something that you do. That women have done some amazing things to advance technology. (laughter) And the idea that women
enrich that community. That it is a community of
people working together. There’s a lot of collaboration,
a lot of teamwork, and that that is very rewarding, and how technology is advanced. So, if we think about it from what we do on the outreach side and the
K-12 side, we think about coding as a fun way to create
things alongside friends. And that’s a message
that we share with women that are engaged on teams
in our robotics competitions throughout the state, we
have some all-female teams, we have some teams
where we have a mixture, in terms of male and female
students working together to solve a challenge,
and they have to design and they have to program,
and they have to test, and they have to tell the
story of their mistakes. In order to advance. And this is, there’s some great things happening in those kinds of things. I show here, a picture of
Brin Barry and Bailey Hadnot. Brin is one of our former
students who was the president of the National
Society of Black Engineers. She graduated with a degree
in mechanical engineering, and she was, when she was president, she had a passion for:
we need to tell the story to African American girls,
that black girls do science. And so she was one of our
founders of that program, that we’ve had going on
for several years now, and it’s grown in its impact. And Bailey is another
student, she graduated with a degree in civil and
environmental engineering and carried on some of that work with Black Girls Do Science,
and so we’re heading into our fourth year of that program. We have had engineers
from different companies come and talk to the students. We’ve had tech, ah, women in technology help with demos for some of
the girls that are doing that, but the other piece of
that is this opportunity to give back and to reach
out and inspire others is fun for our students,
and it’s fun for me. And it’s fun for the women in technology to sort of reach out and
engage with other folks. If you look at First Tech Challenge, which is our robotics competitions, we’ve had, in the 2014-15 year, we had 65 teams in Iowa,
or 65 tourneys in Iowa, 192 teams, and Iowa, I
think we were behind states, ahead of states with much more
of a population than we have. And the other piece to
that is that this program was 40 percent female, so
these types of activities are engaging women to get
involved and to be a part of this community of problem solvers. There’s also 16 percent
underrepresented minority students. How many people have seen
the Hidden Figures movie? (applause) Yes. I love that movie, and
that movie is really the true story of Katherine Johnson, who was a mathematician, Dorothy Vaughan, who was a programmer, and Mary Jackson, who was one of the first engineers in the NASA aeronautics program. And what’s interesting about this: at that time, in the ’60s,
these women were the computers. They were the technology. They solved the problems
that helped people who were astronauts
actually be safe and survive during spaceflight, and so
they were very important in the space program, and
it’s really interesting that today, you know,
this movie is being shown, and the story is being told. And the message is:
women have been involved in technology for decades, right? They’ve been involved in
technology for decades. And here’s a picture of some of the women, computers from NASA. NASA just recently, in
2016, dedicated a building on its campus to Katherine
Johnson for her work. At the time Katherine was doing this work, her name didn’t get on any
of the papers and reports. For all the problems that she solved. And so one of the issues
that we have for women in technology is the stories
of women in technology are slow to be acknowledged and told. And we have to have
that history to counter the people who say: well, girls
aren’t interested in math. They’re not good at math. What are you talking about? Girls were doing the math and the guys were doing something else. Alright, and so this
idea of: how do we lose that knowledge or how do we sustain it? And this was very important
to me, personally, because I’m an engineer,
and I was an engineering college student in the ’80s,
and I never heard this story. Nobody told me this when
I was going to school. And I asked myself: why not? Why didn’t I learn this story? And so, for me, this is an opportunity to tell the stories of other women. We’re gonna have some
storytelling a little bit today, but I’m gonna tell you
about a woman I know. Danette Allen is leading
a robotics lab at NASA. She is leading the lab that is designing intelligent machines. So she’s working in artificial
intelligence at NASA. And she started her career at NASA, but I met Danette when I
was a freshman in college, because she was my college roommate. And she was only one of
two women in electrical and computer engineering at the time. And I reached out to her, I said: did you know this story
when we were in college? ‘Cause I didn’t know; I’m sure she does, because she works at
NASA, she’s probably met the primaries and knows the story, but the idea that we have
a responsibility, I think, to share the stories of these women who are doing these amazing things. So I put up here, I’m not gonna play it, but I put up here a link
to her YouTube video, where she’s describing what these intelligent robots are doing. And the idea is to imbue
machines with the kind of intelligence that we
expect from human beings. And she gives some interesting examples of like, if you tell a dog to fetch, the dog will go and fetch, but
the dog has the opportunity to think about how to fetch
it, and which way to go. And so to design machines
that do that type of thinking is maybe a first step in
thinking about autonomous, or intelligent machines. And I just thought it was really neat. And I also thought: I know this person. This is somebody I know, right? That’s inspiring to me. So I still, I’m at that thing of: how do we, as parents, partners, teachers, community members, colleagues,
support women in technology? And we’re doing some of those things, but if we sort of expand that
message to “technology is fun” and we think about that
there are opportunities for all people to pursue
technology careers. It’s not just something fun
that you can do when you’re at school, but you can
actually do this for your work. And that women have effectively navigated technology as experts, is important. But women are experts;
women can be experts. Right? They can be leaders and
experts in technology. And then it’s the idea that
the technology community helps the world advance. It’s the same theme, just
different ways of presenting it. Depending on where people are in their journey and in their career. So, what we’re doing here
in terms of outreach, is we do a lot of work in terms of, it’s inspiring people from,
we say: cradle to career. But when we think about it, we do camps and things like that,
but we have a new club that’s just starting; it’s
a Girls Who Code club. And that’s being led
by Guadalupe Cuanaharte in electrical and computer engineering, for fourth to sixth grade girls. So it’s a club, the girls meet,
and they have an experience. We also have a Femineers program, that we just got STEM innovation money from the state of Iowa
for the Southeast Region, to scale up this program that
exists at Cal Poly Pomona, where they’ve shown a great
impact on women of color getting into STEM and
the interesting thing with the Femineer program
is teachers get trained in it with a curriculum
that has things like wearable technology
and coding, making apps and things like that, so the girls, or, and students that participate
in this Femineers program are getting an experience,
but the teachers are also getting the skills to be able to inspire the next generation in that. And Chelly Lehman, who is
one of our co-directors for women in science and
engineering, is doing that. Rebecca Whitaker leads the
First Tech Challenge for the state of Iowa, so a lot of
those robotic competitions, and FTC has mentor training
and it also has special events for female teams and for female coaches, or for coaches thinking about:
how do I get more females on my team, or encourage
those girls in participation? Project Lead the Way, which
does pre-engineering training for teachers across the
state, also has embarked in trying to figure out how we can get more women participating in these pre-engineering classes in high school. And, you know, one comment
is that a lot of this stuff came through industrial technology, which is kind of the shops of the school. And trying to convert them
from the man-cave of the school to be more welcoming for
women to be at that part of the school and make it more attractive is one work, and Chelly’s also working on that as part of Project Lead the Way. And then Women in Science and Engineering is really about community
building for college students, and so we have a living
and learning community and a peer mentoring program
and a student organization. And this is by no means the
limit of what we’re doing. This is just a sampling of the things that we’re doing to engage women who are in that STEM pathway. So, there’s two issues, though. One issue is getting women to go in. And the other thing is: what happens when women are in these careers? And there was a recent article in the Harvard Business Review that talked about the five biases that push women out of STEM. And if we were to sort of
go through a laundry list of them, it’s prove it again, tightrope, maternal wall, tug of war, and isolation. And some of these things
impact women differently, depending on their race and ethnicity. So, many of them impact all women, but just to differing degrees. And they’re intensified. That’s a nice thing, also,
about Hidden Figures, is it kind of shows that
dynamic, of not just women in the space program, but women of color and how women interacted with
each other in the work place. The first one, prove
it again, is that women work hard, really hard, to
prove that they’re competent. And they continually are proving that they’re competent at things, okay? In the workplace. And the tightrope is: do I act masculine or do I act feminine? Sometimes the masculine
things are rewarded, but not if you’re a woman, right? And so you’re trying to figure out, how do I navigate the space? What do I wear to work? How do I ask for something? Do I ask for it, or I demand it, or do I say: can you please help me? You know, what are
those things that happen in those interpersonal
dynamics in the workplace? The maternal wall is not
just that you had a baby, but the thought that
you might have a child impacts your path in the workplace. And it impacts your advancement, it impacts assumptions people
make about your availability for key projects and
those types of things. And the tug of war is
an interesting thing, because there are women who
have successfully navigated STEM but not all those women
had the same experience. And not all those women
connect with the new women coming in, in a way where they’re saying: come on in, I’ll show you the ropes! There may be a little bit of tug of war, in terms of, well, this
is the way it was for me, and this is the way it
has to be for everybody, and that idea that women
are individuals and each one makes her own choices and
makes her own navigation can be a tug of war in the workplace. And the fifth one is isolation. Just, you don’t have community. You know, maybe you don’t
have people that you feel, that you trust to answer questions, or you don’t wanna be
perceived as being incompetent, so you’re struggling with
the threat in the workplace, and so you end up being isolated, and you can look, the table shows black, Latina, Asian and white, and
differing things that happen for women to differing degrees. And so, some of the things they say: having to provide more
evidence of competence than others to prove themselves. You see it’s like 77
percent of black women that were interviewed said:
this is a real issue for us. And maybe a little bit less so than their counterparts in the workplace. If you look at colleagues
suggesting they should work less, because they have kids, you
know, who would think that? And it seems like it’s a higher percentage of Asian women are hearing that. I find that interesting, too. You know, what’s going on there? That the work, at work
they find themselves to be stereotypically feminine, or female, that women in their work
environments support one another and I think there’s varying ideas about how women support each other. And notice that the African
American women are sort of, I don’t know if it’s
significantly lower, but I see a difference between them and
the rest of the community. And then they’re mistaken
for administrative or custodial staff; that happens. So, if we think about these
ideas that there are biases, that push women out, a solution to that is this idea of connection. Women connecting with other
professional women in technology that helps people sort of share stories and check in with somebody, is it just me, or is this what’s going on? To be able to say: I think
this might be happening. And to have somebody that you can check in with that, about that. In my own career, when I
started in chemical engineering in ’95, I was one of six
African American women in the country who were
in, who were faculty in chemical engineering programs. And we used to get together for lunch at the national conference. And those, that became meaningful. That became something
that was important for us. To get together, check in with each other about what was going
on, share stories about: how did we navigate this issue? Right, and so it’s not
just about feeling good, it’s also about strategy. It’s about other people to
help you advance your career and give you advice and sponsorship. And so there are a lot
of organizations here. I kind of investigated ’em. I’m not members of all of
these, but I investigated some of these that are organizations
for women in technology. And we have the Women in
Technology International, the National Center for Women
in Information Technology, Tech Women, Girls in Tech,
the Anita Borg Institute. I’m most familiar with The
Society of Women Engineers, because we have a student chapter here, and I’m also a member
of that organization. But the idea that we can interrupt bias, and we can foster advancement through those kinds of connections are important. And just because it says
“women in technology”, or “society of women engineers”, doesn’t mean there aren’t men involved. Because this is really for
women and their allies, for other people that see that
advancing women is important. There are many folks who
are trying to figure out: how do we solve this at our company? And how am I, how can I
effectively support women, without being presumptive, you know, presumptive about what they
need or what they want? How can I really be an authentic helper in some of these fields? So, back to the question, of: how can we advance
women in technology? I think that’s something
that we need to think about, especially now, in the
climate that we’re in and a lot of the issues around the value of women’s work and the value of women’s contributions in a variety of fields. We can think about that, and
I want us to sort of have this conversation around
these three ideas: inspire, inspiring women,
acknowledging women, and connecting women,
and so I’m gonna invite my panelists to come up, and I’m gonna say thank you for listening
to me go on. (laughs) And maybe we’ll share some questions and field some questions about that. So I have Sarah, who’s
representing Women in Technology, our actual campus Women
in Technology group. And she’s gonna come
up, and Becca Whitaker, who’s our FTC affiliate partner, and Ananya, who is a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering. And so why don’t you guys join us up here? (applause) I like doing things with friends, so. Okay, so the first thing, I’ll field, I’ll ask the first question. I would like our panelists to tell you a little bit about their story. One: what’s your role
in the technology world? And a little bit about how you got there, and I think that’ll be good
for the first question. – Okay, I’m faculty at electrical
and computer engineering, and my research area is signal processing, which is a fancy way of
saying I look at signals that come out of all kinds of instruments, instruments that try to analyze
oil samples in an oil spill, or instruments that are
inside of satellites, sending us information about
the Earth’s radiation belts, or instruments that are run in a lab to see are there toxins
in our environment. – [Dr. Peoples] Ananya, I’m
gonna ask you to yell out, because I think the people
in the back can’t hear you. – Okay, sorry. Then, what I do is I
look at all these signals and I try to discover patterns. The patterns I typically
discover using a combination of mathematics, algorithms,
sometimes statistics. Typically a combination of all three. There’s a lot of trying
this and that to figure out what is the best way of
understanding something. There’s a lot of
interdisciplinary collaboration. I love my job because every
day, almost every day, I end up learning something new, because the field scientists I work with do very interesting
stuff and teach me things I didn’t know before and
then the challenge is: how do I incorporate all
this new information, this new science that I have to learn, every day, on my feet, and
interpret them mathematically and then finally code them
up so that I can return back to the community and
they can automate things and really make sense of big data? So that’s kind of what I do. Now, the question is: how did I get here? Well, I could tell a long
story, but the short version is: I come from an interesting heritage. My mother was a physics teacher, and she taught physics to high
school girls all her career. Her mother, my maternal grandmother, led one of the first
high schools for girls in pre-independence India. And even though she never had math degree, in her heart, she was a mathematician. So, for me, given the maternal heritage, I had role models in the
family who would not let me ever think that I could not do STEM. And I realize how lucky I got there. But then, now that I’m
faculty, I try to take that inspiration and project it forward, like I’d seen as a little girl, my mother inspired her female students, because there streets in
Calcutta I still cannot walk with her and not run into
a woman, probably as old as my mom, who tell me the
story: you know, I was just 17 and your mom showed me
magnets can make cool jewelry. And my life changed after that. (laughter) So, I actually share that
story with some of my students sometimes, because science
does not always have to be about stereotypically,
quote/unquote, boy things. Science is everywhere; the
laws of physics are everywhere. You know, and we can
find magic in everything. So now that I’ve a little girl of my own, me and her dad tell her that science is the coolest magic you can do. And that’s the same thing I
also try to tell my students, in slightly more grown-up
ways, but (laughing) that’s kind of the idea; it’s magical. And everybody has a right to pursue it. – Hi, I’m Becca Whitaker,
and I want to let you know that your story is very inspirational. So thank you for sharing. I am the First Tech
Challenge affiliate partner, so I deal with a lot of robots. First Tech Challenge is a
middle school and high school level robotics program,
in which teams of students design, build, and program a robot. In addition to the teams, we
also work very successfully because of all the
volunteers that we have. We have about 400 volunteers
across the state of Iowa, and we hosted 92 events
from October through March of this year, so we’re very busy. How did I get here? Ah, pure luck, really. Happenstance. I’m very fortunate, nine
years ago, I think it was, dean Butler, who’s now the provost, was approached by the First organization and asked if the University of Iowa would like to become an affiliate partner for the First Tech Challenge Program. And he said yes, and then he found me, and he was like: you’re gonna do this. So I said: thank you, sir. (laughing) And I still say that, but
we are very fortunate. I mean, we have great support, not only from the communities that we are in, but also the corporations
in the state of Iowa. We have a lot of great teams
who are all female based. I love seeing the Girl Scout teams. They are so inspirational. And the great thing about First, too, is everybody works together. It’s not Battle Bots. It is teams want to improve each other. That’s really why I
really enjoy the program. – Ah, I don’t even know, oh, hey! You can hear me! My name is Sarah Mascher-Wallace. I work in central IT for the university as an application developer. And when I say that,
and my husband is asked to explain what it is
I do, he has no idea. But that’s okay, because
he’s an accountant and I have no idea what he does, either. But I work with a lot of data. My background is mathematics,
so when the opportunity came up that I get to play
with data all day long, I was like: yeah, that sounds so cool! But that’s, that’s what I do for my job. In terms of how I help women, I’m part of a Women in
Technology user group that’s primary focused to
IT professionals, currently. We kind of established
ourselves in order to build a community for women to
have a safe space to come to. Sometimes, it can be a little intimidating when you’re the only woman
or one of very few women in the room, and you
don’t wanna be that one who asks the question and
wonder: oh, do other people think that I didn’t know
that because I’m a woman? Or will people do the right thing and just assume I just don’t
know because I don’t know? And we do regular Lunch and
Learns, where we talk about technology, professional
development, health and wellness, and we also do some outreach
events to youth members. We did a take your kid to work day. We helped out with Iowa Tech Chicks, on their girls’ tech career day. And while we’re really focused on women and IT professionals right now, we realize that there are
plenty of other IT professionals that are under, like,
underrepresented groups of people who also deserve a
place to have, you know, interesting conversations,
and also it’s about the dialog between IT professionals and the users of technology, as well. And my story is a lot like theirs, where I had a lot of
really great inspiration and a lot of really good
luck to get me here today. (feedback screeching) – Ok, I’ll stand over here. I should stand over here. The next question that
I had was really about the idea of acknowledging
women in technology. You know, if you think about, whether it’s the Hidden Figures story or another story, what are some ways that you think we could go
about doing a better job of telling the stories
of women in technology? – Well, I can share how I
try to do things in class. So sometimes, when I teach
something really cool, I try to take examples from real life, or the history of science,
and that gives me this portal to actually, to do my research. And acknowledge where women
and minorities in STEM actually made a contribution
that may not be hailed as much. So, that’s one of the easier ways. But another way, I will
say, acknowledgment happens at a micro level, which also ties into the inspiration thing, I have found, particularly with female students, acknowledging them, when
they have had what they think is a silly idea, but
is really a smart idea, and then say: you know, if I
were to run with your idea, it would be very similar to this thing, this scientist in the past tried. And that led to this huge thing. And I’ve found that very effective. Because regardless of
whether the scientist long ago had a similar idea
was a male or a female, then this young woman is thinking: wow, I could be that person. And that was not a
stupid thing to suggest. And I do find, when we acknowledge, while we acknowledge the past,
it’s almost more important to acknowledge the future; what it can be. And I kind of try to drag it out. And that’s kind of how I do it, I guess. And I acknowledge all my
mentors, people who inspire me. It’s easy for me to do,
given my personal history, but it’s a combination of the three. – I would say a good way to
acknowledge women in technology is to develop, maybe, a
mentor/mentee relationship. I know that there are several
folks across the state who is a coach of an FTC
team because they had a great coach that inspired them, so they wanna give back to the community and help inspire the next
generation of students. On a personal level, I have
an 11 year old daughter. For those of you who
have a preteen daughter, you understand it’s a little difficult. But what I have done is I’ve bought a lot of the Who Was books,
and I have specifically focused on the female Who Was books. She has a school project,
and she could have picked anybody in the world to
do a little biography on, and she decided to pick Madame Curie, and I was so happy,
because she’s a chemist, and she’s a woman, so I think
the whole acknowledgment, mentor/mentee, and providing the resources to the young ladies, you know,
just kind of slip those books in or do something that they don’t realize that they’re being acknowledged. – In terms of encouragement,
one of the things I like to do for fun, in my head, is something was developed or worked on, and no women were involved:
what would have happened? Or what would have been improved
if a woman was involved? For example, the original
designs of the seat belt, all the people working on it were men, and so when women were in cars, they were more likely to get hurt, because we have different
body proportions. And there are things that we can prevent, just by, you know, having a little bit of foresight about that kind of stuff. And so, you know, if
you come across a girl who ever doesn’t really
know whether or not she wants to study science, because oh, it’s a guy thing to study science. Oh, it’s not cool to be into math. You know, tell them they’re wrong. (laughter) – So, I think maybe, you
know, we’ve kind of talked about this idea of building community and inspiration and what inspired us, and you know, I have similar stories. I was president of the math
club when I was in high school or something like that, you
know, and I had parents, my mom was a nurse, my
dad was career military, and actually went to
college when he retired. So I was in high school
and my dad was in college. And so, that was a very
interesting experience of us both doing homework, you know? But, and he was also one that, you know, he would type out the
multiplication tables, so I had all these things on the, back when you used to use typewriters, and you know, and I’d learn
those things from him, and I saw his own creativity. You know, I think that was
really inspirational to me, and my mom was always
doing continuing education. She was a nurse and she
was always re-certifying and always learning
and that kind of thing, for her profession, and so
I think those two things really put the value of
education into my spirit. And my mom’s like: oh, you’ve been in school your whole life,
you’re never gonna leave school. You know, just because that was something that I was really interested
in, you know, growing up. Now, I kind of wanna open it up though, and maybe we can take some
questions from the audience, in terms of reflecting on some of the topics that we’ve presented today. – [Woman In Audience] Quick question. One of you talked about, particularly, you have, you saw this kind
of experience with others, your mother, grandmother, so to me, I’m wondering how much of it
is the woman mentorship need or the fact that dean Guardia often says: you can’t read what you haven’t seen. Is it that we haven’t, as women, seen these roles, or is
it that we don’t have women mentorship and how do we expose it? I know women in finance,
I often, what I teach, they’re in it because they
saw their father in finance. And so they were at
least familiar with it. So, can you speak to that,
whether that is also an influence and your dad can take you
to work for a day, even, too, to get more women exposed? What are your thoughts on that? – You know, I definitely see, I definitely relate to the
influence of my father, who was more the researcher and, you know, the “let’s look it up”,
and “let’s figure it out”. You know, that kind of parent. And I think that in my
experience, I was very lucky. I didn’t realize how lucky I was, because when I was an undergraduate, there was one woman faculty member, in chemical engineering, and she was one of the first three in the country, of women in chemical engineering, and I don’t know if I
took that for granted. I just didn’t know it
wasn’t like that everywhere. But I think there have
been times in my career where I’ve looked around and
I’m the only woman in the room, and there have been men who
have been sponsors and allies in saying: I think you’d
be good at that, as well. And so I think that men play a role in encouraging women and
exposing them to that, and I think part of it is
whether they’re willing to say: I see this in you. Right? And I think that makes a big difference. – Personal story here,
growing up I did not have any role models that were of
the engineering background. My mother was an
accountant, my father worked in the trade services, my aunts and uncles were not engineers. I didn’t know anybody who was an engineer. So I went through high school not knowing the field of engineering. Honestly, the entire
time I thought engineers only drove trains, so when I
got to college and, (chuckles) when I got to college and the
girl down the hall from me, she said she was an engineering student, I was like, completely mind-blown. Because I was like:
what do you want to do? You know, you wanna be in
a train the whole time? She’s like: no, I can do this. And so, you know, I got my
degree and all that stuff, and I’ve kicked myself multiple times for not actually pursuing an
engineering degree back then. Of course, now that I have children, it’s a little bit more difficult, but I think it is really important to have role models of either gender to influence whatever career you decide to go into. – Well, I really appreciate
you sharing the story. I talked about my female mentors, but I also have been very fortunate, even currently, in my present, where once I entered college, pretty much, all my, I won’t say “all”,
most, maybe 90 percent, 95 percent of my mentors were all men. And that proved to me to be
invaluable in two aspects. One, to validate that
men in senior positions, with authority over me, can
actually not see me as a threat, want me to be successful,
and need education on how to help me to be successful. So, for example, when I was
pregnant with my daughter, I had a difficult pregnancy. Both senior scientists I was working with, at that time as a post-doc, were men. Who had never been pregnant. (laughter) And it was important
for them to understand how a woman’s body behaves when she is going through a difficult pregnancy. It is not that I’m gonna work less hours, but my hours are gonna be funny. Because I can only work
when I’m not throwing up. And it was important they understood that, and I did not mince words. Now, the thing is, we had
built that relationship of trust, that’s why ally is important, and while I would trust
that they would trust that I’m serious about my research, I’m also happy that I’m
going to have a little one. But they were educated on biology, that’s not the word for it,
which made them better mentors to their female employees,
above and beyond after me. And they became protagonists. That you know what? Maybe our policy needs to be
more sensitive to these things. And they would fight for
me because they were better educated, and I was not shy to
be a pregnant woman at work. And that’s where I really give hats off. And even today, like,
after that I came to Iowa and have been lucky again,
to have some really great male mentors, and I built
trust slowly, over time, but once that’s built, I
don’t act like somebody who I’m not, if there’s
a uniquely female issue, I’ll bring it up with a male mentor. Because they also need
education, even if a person is trying their best to help, they are not in the shoes
of a minority person, and if they’re not, but
the intent is there, then I would take the risk and trust them and really say what it’s like. And have found every
time I’ve taken the risk, it has brought us closer,
educated the mainstream, and they have the louder mouthpieces. I also have great female
mentors. (laughter) I must say, and Tonya
has really helped me, how to sometimes document
ways in which I can improve myself or help
others, and that’s something I really, really appreciate. So it happens on different levels. And I do think there are
many allies out there who are also there to help,
and we need to be more accessible and draw them
in with equal passion. – So, I had an interesting
relationship when it came to mentorship growing up. I’m Asian American and I’m a woman, and so some of the stereotypes are that Asian people are really good at math. And my mentors usually acknowledged that, but then women aren’t good at math, and so I often just kind
of got these mixed messages of like: well, you’re
supposed to be good at math, but you’re not supposed
to be good at math. So what are we supposed to do about that? I mean, there’s a lot of
great male mentors out there, but sometimes it would be
nice to have a female mentor. Every once in a while. But just looking out for
other people in the room and realizing, you know,
oh, there is another woman in the room, maybe I
should go talk to them and becoming each other’s allies, becoming each other’s mentors
to help you through all these kinds of difficult
situations that you might run into. – [Woman In Audience] Yeah,
I had a question about how, I guess, centered on the
community members portion that you talked about at the
beginning of this conversation, how we, as people who maybe
are trained in technology can bring it back to
underrepresented communities, because I think back to
how I didn’t have, like, a STEM club at my high school,
that purely had funding. The ACT average was a 14. In what ways can we go back
and introduce these concepts on more than just a service level? Science and technology is good. What are some kind of tangible
methods that we can bring? – You want a robot? (laughter) No, seriously, we can take a
robot out to your community, you can try to drive it, have
it there, develop a team. It’ll be a long-term
learning program for them. Not just a one-time, one
and done kind of thing. – [Woman In Audience] So, it’s in Detroit. (laughter) So I don’t know if you wanna
go on a road trip, but. – Sure, sure. Yeah, no, you said Detroit? So, we are actually having
the World Championship of First Tech Challenge in Detroit. Not this April, but next April,
and it’s completely free. I would certainly encourage
everybody in your community to come out and check it out. – [Woman In Audience] What
did you say it was called? – The world championship for First. And that’ll be April, 2018. – And I think, the other
thing is they are allies. You know, I know folks at Wayne State, I know folks, you know what I mean? So you know people in these communities, and that’s part of the thing
is that sort of building of ally-ship, but it’s
not just people in STEM, it’s community members,
and so we work with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Cedar Rapids, and Lori Ampy’s group,
working with Upward Bound. We’re working with the
neighborhood centers of Johnson County, we do tutoring. We’re bringing kids in that community, and when I was in, as a part
of my professional society, we would do what you
call “urban outreach”. Where if we had a conference,
a professional conference in a town, we would try to find the school with the low SES or whatever, and say: okay, we’re gonna go to
that school and we’re gonna, you know, do a hands-on thing. And that is kind of, it is a one and done, but it’s also the relationships
that I’ve built from that, really advanced my ability
to see the community. Do you know what I mean? Like, when you’re so used to, sort of, your academic life and that,
and you’re not stepping out in the community, there’s
an issue that we need to do, in the STEM community, is to share our stories with the general public. We need to think about what
level we’re talking at. So that people understand what we’re doing and understand the message that it’s cool, that we enjoy this, we work really hard, but we really like what we’re doing. And there’s opportunities
to solve problems, to make the world better,
and all of those things. And so part of it is: how do
you bridge literacy in science? And some of the things
we’re doing with outreach and engagement, I think, overall, this Our Lives Online,
is a perfect example. Because we’re really, the
underpinning of this whole theme is technology, but you’ve
got artists coming in and talking about it, you’ve
got activists coming in and talking about how
they’re using social media. How their technology is supporting and advancing the issues
that are important to them. So I think there’s some
rich opportunities for us to do that, but we have to see each other. And I think that’s one of
the issues in our country. We’re not seeing each other. And we need to see each
other, in terms of the people who are doing the science
and technology and the people who are benefiting from
the science and technology, but not necessarily engaged
with it on a daily basis. – So, when I was an
undergraduate, I worked in an NSF granted summer math camp. That was specifically targeted
to kids who were eligible for free and reduced lunches. These kinds of programs
are the perfect opportunity to reach out to the people
who aren’t lucky enough to have, you know, the family background that encourages you to study science or don’t necessarily
have the financial means. Because part of, a lot of
the kids in the program were convinced that they
did not have enough money to go to college, weren’t
informed about financial aid, and having these kinds of programs. And if you are lucky enough
to be the kind of person who has all these
opportunities, seeking them out, starting these kinds of programs, reaching out to your
community, is really good. – I think we’re coming to the
end of our time, yes we are. But thank you so much for coming. And thanks for really
giving us an opportunity to share our stories with you, and hopefully we can
inspire the next generation. Yeah. (applause) – And many thanks to your panel. This has been really fantastic. Thank you so very much. A wonderful beginning
to our themed semester, and very much on topic. And thank you all for coming. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *