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STEM summit to highlight opportunities for women

Students, scholars and educators will discuss STEM issues as part of the second Women in STEM Summit happening April 13 at UB. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MICHAEL ANDREI

Published April 5, 2016

“There are terrific opportunities for young women entering STEM fields now. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM jobs.”
Liesl Folks, dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce, but hold only 27 percent of STEM-related occupations.

Women comprise just 15.6 percent of chemical engineers, 12.1 percent of civil engineers and 7.5 percent of computer network architects.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in many other STEM-related fields as well: Women lag behind men as environmental scientists and geoscientists, physicists and in computer and math occupations.

And yet, in a recent report, “Solving the Equation,” the American Association of University Women found that by 2022, the United States will need 1.7 million more engineers and computing professionals.

As part of its commitment to raise awareness and promote the progression of women in science, technology, engineering and math careers, UB will host its second Women in STEM Summit: Work Smarter, Not Harder.

The event will be held April 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union on the UB North Campus.

It is free and open to the public. To register, visit http://www.pss.buffalo.edu/womeninstem.

The summit will bring UB STEM undergraduate and graduate students, scholars and educators together with professionals from across Western New York to discuss STEM-related issues, network and share academic and career experiences.

Tonawanda Engine Plant Manager Steve Finch, one of several local thought leaders speaking at the event, said: “Having a diverse workforce, one that really mirrors our customer base, is critically important for any business, but especially in a global business like GM.

“The automotive industry is dynamic, exciting and offers a multitude of careers. Women influence more than 85 percent of all purchasing decisions, so it makes great business sense to attract, engage, develop and retain more women into our workforce.”

Making STEM connections beyond the classroom can provide crucial guidance toward finding the right career. This year, the summit will present an information fair featuring nearly 30 campus and community groups, encompassing a wide range of STEM-related educational, career and professional areas. Also new this year, the Women in STEM Summit is showcasing 27 posters presented by UB STEM undergraduate and graduate students.

The event’s keynote address, “Identity and Career Progression for Women in STEM,” will be delivered by Gilda Barabino, PhD, Berg Professor and dean of the Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York.

“Real innovation comes at the intersection of fields, it comes with new perspectives and it comes with diversification,” Barabino said.

“Women are a valuable, yet under-tapped resource in STEM. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of fueling passions and increasing exposure to career paths in the STEM fields – especially early on. The impact is transformative.”

“There are terrific opportunities for young women entering STEM fields now,” said Liesl Folks, dean of UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM jobs.  

“Young women who are interested in math and science don’t need to sacrifice any life goals to pursue great careers in STEM fields. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. STEM careers are important to women, offering flexible, exciting and challenging opportunities that provide fulfillment and success, allowing them to work on the most pressing problems we face as a society.”

The Women in STEM Summit is sponsored by: Engineers for a Sustainable World; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Buffalo; UB Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender; New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE).

Also: Praxair; UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Technical Societies Council; UB College of Arts and Sciences; UB Honors College; UB Professional Staff Senate; UB Intercultural Diversity Center; UB Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program; UB STEM Programs; UB Student Life and UB Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).