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More than 300 female middle school and high school students explored careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields during the Lehigh Valley region’s first Women in Science event on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.
Produced in collaboration between the Da Vinci Science Center and Cedar Crest College and presented by Air Products, the event engaged students with female college students and scientists through activities, workshops, and an evening panel discussion with a national panel of distinguished professionals – including former NASA Astronaut Mary Ellen Weber, Ph.D., from Dallas, Texas.
The Women in Science event was created to encourage female students to consider careers in STEM fields, said Lin Erickson, the Da Vinci Science Center’s Executive Director and CEO. A 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that women comprise approximately 48 percent of the American workforce but only 24 percent of STEM professionals are female.
“Women are a dramatically underrepresented group in STEM industries, which means that some of our nation’s most talented and creative minds are not playing this vital role in our nation’s security and economic strength,” Erickson said. “By meeting female professionals who are willing to share their experiences and advice, these young women are able to relate these career opportunities with their futures.”
The panel discussion was moderated by Carmen Ambar, President of Cedar Crest College. Additional panelists included Jennifer Bryne, Ph.D., Vice President, Engineering and Technology, Aeronautics, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Martha Collins, Ph.D., Director of Global Technology Center, Air Products; Christyl Johnson, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Technology and Research Investments, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Brigadier General Miyako Schanely, Deputy Commander of the 412th Theater Engineer Command, U.S. Army; and Andrea Edge, a Cedar Crest College graduate and a Research Assistant and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Women in Science event sponsors also included ATAS International, Inc.; B. Braun; Computer Aid, Inc.; the Dow Chemical Company; Eastern Telephone & Communications; Linde Engineering; Lutron Electronics Company; the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists; PPL Corporation; and UGI Utilities.