Celebrating Women In STEM

Celebrating Women In STEM

 

Welcome back, ecoSPEARS readers! At the time you’re reading this post you may or may not have been aware that this past Monday, February 11th, marked the 4th-annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science. In fact, 2019’s “theme” for this celebratory day was “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.” Internationally recognizing this day was first put forth into motion in 2014 – and soon after adopted in 2015 – by the United Nations General Assembly as part of their international development goals such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals outlined and agreed upon by the United Nations, laid on the foundation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, to unite the world’s leaders and their nations to enhance and support efforts towards developing a more sustainable, inclusive, and green future for everyone. These 17 global goals include such endeavors as Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Gender Equality, and Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Since the turn of the 21st-century world-wide efforts have been made to further achievements, inclusion, equality, and opportunity in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) – particularly insofar as paralleling gender equality in these fields. This is due to long-standing biases which in the past have generally steered many women and girls away from pursuing academic and/or professional careers in STEM-related fields. While progress has been made in recent years, a 2015 study by the Geena Davis Institute found that of all participants in the study with an identifiable career or field of study in STEM, only 12% were women. Other data generated by UNESCO from 2014-2016 found that “only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.” Of that group, only some 5% of women pursue fields in math, statistics, or natural sciences, and only 8% pursue fields in engineering, manufacturing, or construction.

“An adolescent girl conducts an experiment during a chemistry class in Kamulanga Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia.” (source: UNICEF Photo/UN0145554/Karin Schermbrucker)

Undoubtedly, we as humans have a long way to go until centuries of bias fueling gender equality are truly overcome; however, we here at ecoSPEARS wanted to celebrate our very own Women of STEM to coincide with the 4th-annual international day of this celebration!

If you have not yet had the pleasure to be introduced to the strong, intelligent, and remarkable women who help make up the ecoSPEARS team, please virtually introduce yourselves to Morgan Smuczynski, Gagan Cambow, and Milnaira Alvira! These three women originally came onboard our team as students from the University of Central Florida and have since dived full-on into STEM-related career fields. For this post, we asked Morgan, Gagan, and Milnaira some questions to get their personal thoughts on working in STEM-related fields and why days of recognition such as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is so important.

Morgan Smuczynski is a Research Analyst and Laboratory Assistant with ecoSPEARS

Q: “What sparked your initial interest to work in a STEM career?”

A: “The ironic thing is I never truly set out with the intention of working in a STEM career – it kind of just happened! I have always loved the idea of working in the science field doing something to restore the health of the environment, and I ended up coming across this incredible company whose mission, values, and goals really resonated with my own. It’s been fantastic!”

Q: “Which field of STEM do you personally find most interesting?”

A: “Definitely the Science field of STEM. Ever since I was a little, my parents loved to travel and really made sure my siblings and I were able to experience nature as it’s meant to be shared. We spent many of our weekends camping, skiing, and hiking in the mountains and I am certain this played a role in my love of getting outside in nature today. As the years passed, it pained me to see forests I grew up in be torn down and rivers blocked off due to pollution. I think that is what ended up drawing me into the science field was knowing I was working to do something about it. Today still, when I am not in the office, you can find me on the trails, on a sports field, or out exploring new cities.”

Q: “What drives you to continue academic or professional pursuits in STEM?”

A: “I have always found that in life there is little that is simply black or white. Everything seems to be interrelated to some extent, and I find it valuable to integrate different fields of knowledge to create new, innovative advances across all disciplines. Programs such as STEM really allow for this flow of knowledge, striving to connect disciplines that may have previously been seen as unrelated.”

Q: “What does it mean to you to be a woman working in a STEM-related job?”

A: “It means challenging the conventional thinking that women aren’t found in ‘tough’ fields. We are here, and here to stay in growing numbers. Being a women working at a STEM job means closing that gender gap and continue fighting for equality.”

Q: “Is a professional career in STEM something you picture yourself continuing later in life?”

A: “I can certainly see myself holding a STEM position in the future. As the population continues to increase, more than ever we need to push frontiers, coming up with new, cutting-edge technologies and practices to adapt and streamline the world we live in.”

Q: “Which female role model(s) inspire you in your line of work?”

A: “My female role models are the women who think freely and dare to make their own path rather than follow in the footsteps of others before them. The women who push themselves to constantly follow their curiosity and welcome challenges with open arms on a daily basis. These will be the next generation of leaders, taking things to the next level and opening doors that others didn’t know existed.”

Q: “Why do you believe it’s important to have more women working in STEM careers?”

A: “Gender equality has been a hot-button issue around the world for the better part of a century. As we fight harder on that front, representation and diversity become more widely seen and accepted. We need to keep showing the world that passion, drive, and understanding are more key judges of character than size or appearance.”

Q: “How do you believe more women could be drawn into STEM careers?”

A: “Improving equality for women across the board. I think it’s really important for younger generations to understand that no position or field is strictly limited to one gender. We are lucky to be living in a time where that is becoming more understood, and having trailblazers out there inspiring others will draw more bright female minds into the STEM programs.”

Gagan Cambow is a Digital Marketing Specialist at ecoSPEARS

Q: “What sparked your initial interest to work in a STEM career?”

A: “I have always been intrigued by the STEM field, ever since I was young. Like so many other kids I wanted to work as an astronaut for NASA, but as I grew older my passion shifted from space to the digital realm. Over the years my passions have always revolved around technology and years later I am working for a company that initially stemmed from NASA! It’s funny how things work out like that.”

Q: “Which field of STEM do you personally find most interesting?”

A: “I find technology the most interesting in the STEM field because without it, so much of what we do in our daily lives wouldn’t exist. Technology helps solve difficult problems for everyday folk, from the GPS on your phone to the security system in your house. Technology has a way of perfecting things we can’t which is a beautiful thing.”

Q: “What drives you to continue academic or professional pursuits in STEM?”

A: “I always want to push the boundaries in everything I do, so I believe that continuing academic and professional pursuits in STEM will help me along my personal and professional journey. Everything that needs to be found hasn’t, everything that needs to be created hasn’t, so, why should we stop creating?”

Q: “What does it mean to you to be a woman working in a STEM-related job?”

A: “As a female in a male-dominated field I believe it’s incredibly important to change society’s outlook on traditional gender roles and the thinking that originally defined them. I believe both increasing opportunities for women in STEM fields, and narrowing the gap of gender equality, is a key measure of success for our future.”

Q: “Is a professional career in STEM something you picture yourself continuing later in life?”

A: “I definitely see myself having a professional career in STEM, long-term. This has been a passion for me ever since I was young and I continue to fall in love with it more every day. I don’t see ever see that changing for me.”

Q: “Which female role model(s) inspire you in your line of work?”

A: “Karlie Kloss is my biggest role model (no pun intended). She not only pursued a career in modeling, but coding as well. She hosts coding camps for girls ages 13-18 to help them pursue careers in tech and teach them how to become the leaders of our world’s future. I believe the leadership values and importance on individuality Kloss displayed to help inspire these girls, likewise inspired me to become more involved in women leadership roles in college.  I think we all should aspire to inspire. You never know whose life you can change.”

Q: “Why do you believe it’s important to have more women working in STEM careers?”

A: “STEM is a heavily male-dominated field, but I believe there shouldn’t be such a thing. Women and men are equal. I believe if we spread knowledge, and help to inspire and create more opportunities for girls and women to learn about careers in STEM, the better!”

Q: “How do you believe more women could be drawn into STEM careers?”

A: “I believe being more inviting and accepting of all genders to any career field, not just STEM-related fields. I want there to be options of role models for younger girls to look up to in the STEM field. Most of the famous inventors and scientist names we all know are males, we all need to know the female ones too. I believe if we spread awareness of females who are working and have worked in the STEM field, it’ll inspire others to not be afraid of going against the norm.”

Milnaira Alvira recently worked with ecoSPEARS as a Chemist and Laboratory Assistant

Q: “What sparked your initial interest to work in a STEM career?”

A: “What sparked my interest to work in a STEM career were the hundreds of Science-Fiction films I would watch with my family at home in my childhood. I was a fan-girl for these movies and greatly enjoyed watching them. Another big factor for me was my Integrated Science Class in middle school. My teacher was absolutely entertaining and made learning science so much fun. The class covered everything from physical science to human biological systems in a general form, but it was absolutely enlightening.”

Q: “Which field of STEM do you personally find most interesting?”

A: “Biology is definitely the most interesting field of STEM for me as it can range from animal behavior all the way to molecular cell biology. It encompasses so many natural science disciplines that I can’t help but make everyday connections from my education to the real world.”

Q: “What drives you to continue academic or professional pursuits in STEM?”

A: “What drives me to continue my future in STEM is the need for more knowledge and just interest
in the environment around me. I always feel like there is more to be learned, pushing me to seek and
create new experiences in the STEM field.”

Q: “What does it mean to you to be a woman working in a STEM-related job?”

A: “To me it means feeling proud that I’m taking part in furthering gender equality for women. There are more men than there are women in the STEM field, and I hope in the future where ever my career takes me, I can set an
example for other young girls to be confident, fearless, and empowered in a STEM field they might be
intimated by or afraid of.”

Q: “Is a professional career in STEM something you picture yourself continuing later in life?”

A: “A professional career in STEM is something I can see myself doing later in life, as it’s natural for
me to have that STEM mindset in my day-to-day. Learning and discovering new things is what propels
me to pursue and persist in a constantly changing world. Being able to make a difference with science as a
tool, whether it be to help the environment, people, or even animals, is nothing short of satisfying.”

Q: “Which female role model(s) inspire you in your line of work?”

A: “Jane Goodall inspires me in my line of work as she is a strong and dedicated woman who knows
no bounds. She is an incredibly passionate Anthropologist and Primatologist who has studied primates
for over 55 years. She sets an example to all and to me in showing that passion and a drive for knowledge is a great asset for a career in STEM. This fuels my own passion for studies I truly find my own happiness in pursuing.”

Q: “Why do you believe it’s important to have more women studying and/or working in STEM fields?”

A: “I think it’s important to have more women working in STEM career as humanity as a whole rely and depend on STEM studies and pursuits to better us as a society. It’s a field that is constantly in demand and ever changing.”

Q: “How do you believe more women could be drawn into STEM careers?”

A: “I believe that more women could be drawn into STEM careers if they were to start at a young age.
Introducing general science disciplines early and having them readily enjoy Science-Fiction media, non-fictional
science books, and even fictional books to pique their curiosity and grow their interests would certainly
draw more women into STEM careers.”

 

We here at ecoSPEARS are truly lucky and blessed to have such inspiring and passionate women working us build a better future. Their examples and pearls of wisdom are only some of the reasons why recognizing and celebrating – not only women in the academic studies of, or STEM careers – is becoming an evermore important duty we all have. Our younger generations are the ones who will follow our example to take on the mantle of global leadership when the time comes, making what we all do here on Earth with the time given to us paramount to inclusion and furthering humanity as a species.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. If you know any women in STEM-related careers or academia, be sure to thank and congratulate them this week for daring to be themselves.

And as always, readers, see you next time!

 

 

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Want to know how ecoSPEARS technology can help your PCB-impacted community? Schedule a webinar to learn more about how our solutions can help!

Interested in meeting our team? Be on the lookout for ecoSPEARS at these upcoming Trade Shows:

Battelle Sediments Conference
February 11th-14th, 2019
Hilton New Orleans Riverside
New Orleans, LA

RemTech 2019
February 26th-28th, 2019
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, CO

 

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