Elena Hume is passionate about helping people through medicine. Although she is only in 10th grade, she is already planning her career as an orthopedic trauma surgeon.
She recently received a big dose of motivation from Dr. Marielle Cohard-Radice, global head of development at Daiichi Sankyo pharmaceutical company.
“Her story was truly inspirational,” said Elena. “She spoke about her work as a physician in France specializing in gastroenterology, and then her career as a clinical researcher at a pharmaceutical company. Just by talking to her, I knew that I wanted to continue to pursue medicine.”
Elena and Marielle met Feb. 13 during the Da Vinci Science Center’s annual Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Forum, presented by Daiichi Sankyo, inc. and held at Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. Elena was one of more than 150 female high school and college students to attend the networking dinner and panel discussion. They were joined by dozens of successful female professionals and educators from a variety of fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“I learned about the power of a degree in STEM, and how it can translate to many different jobs and career paths,” said Elena. “It was so empowering to listen to such accomplished women discuss their experience, sometimes as the only woman in the room at work.”
Sarah Nackman, a high school junior, was very impressed with panelist Wendy Body, senior project manager at Alvin H. Butz construction management firm.
“Wendy was especially personal, witty, and charming,” said Sarah, who plans to enroll in a pre-med program and minor in business. “Looking at all of those strong, intelligent, and successful women pouring their hearts out on the stage, I felt empowered and inspired to embody their charisma and drive in my own life.”
During the panel discussion, the panelists talked about the many strengths women bring to the STEM industries and the challenges they face when pursuing a career in male-dominated fields. In addition to Dr. Cohard-Radice and Body, the other panelists included Terri Kelly, president and CEO of W. L. Gore & Associates; Nancy McLane, senior vice president of operations at Orasure Technologies; and Lisa Strohm, founder and CEO of The Athena Network. Susan Yee, founder and CEO of Active Data, served as the panel moderator.
“The panelists provided me with ideas on how to use and build my love of science while still in high school, as well as inspiration and encouragement to make an impact in the future,” said Samantha Ganser, an 11th-grader who plans to study biochemistry. “I learned a lot about how to be heard in the STEM community and how to use the advantages that come with being a woman in a STEM field.”
The WISE Forum is the flagship event of the science center’s WISE Network. The initiative supports current female professionals in the STEM fields and works to inspire young women to follow in their footsteps.
“In Pennsylvania, the demand for STEM jobs is growing three times as fast as non-STEM jobs. Baby boomers are retiring, and employers report that they cannot find qualified individuals to fill STEM positions,” said Lin Erickson the science center’s executive director and CEO. “Women can help meet the demand in these expanding fields. In addition to expanding the talent pool, women’s experiences — along with men’s experiences — should inform and guide the direction of engineering and technical innovation.”