About 100 people attended the final event for Women Entrepreneurship Week 2014, hearing a panel discuss how to increase the number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. Other events on campus included a “Networking Tips for Students” session led by career coach Lyria Charles; an Oct. 14 evening event featuring women empowerment advocate Gloria Feldt and four successful Red Hawk alumnae; and an Oct. 15 daylong conference featuring nearly 30 women speakers from the state’s entrepreneurial and business communities.
The Oct. 16 STEM event featured the showing of some clips from the documentary, “Big Dream,” which will be released in November and follows several young women as they consider pursuing studies or careers in STEM.
Lauren Gula, manager of social sustainability and women empowerment, United Nations Global Compact;
Katherine Herbert, associate professor of Computer Science, Montclair State University;
Jinisha Patel, student, NJIT;
Judith A. Sheft, associate vice president, Technology Development, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT);
Meiyin Wu, professor of biology and molecular biology, director of Passaic River Institute, Montclair State University
Moderator: Nicole Bryan, assistant professor, Management, Montclair State University
Patel praised the “Big Dream” film, saying it gave her goosebumps. The women talked about their personal experiences that lead them to pursue STEM careers. Wu talked about how her parents had encouraged her to be a nurse, not a doctor, or a teacher, not a professor, but she ultimately found her own path.
“Only when you have the fire in the belly will it push you forward,” Wu said.
Overcoming gender bias was another thread of the discussion. Gula talked about the existence of unconscious bias related to gender.
“The invisible barriers are the most dangerous in some ways,” said Gula.
Sheft mentioned that it is important for young people to be in a safe environment. “Safety…allows them to have those dreams,” she said.
Herbert noted the importance of mentors, saying a woman’s mentor can be male or female
“Mentorship helps when the fire is a little dim,” Herbert said.