UCLA’s student-run Women in STEM Summit returns for a second year – Natural Self Esteem

The annual Women in STEM: Overcoming Barriers (WiSTEM) Conference at UCLA connected students and professionals with prominent women in STEM for the second year in a row.

The April 7-8 conference featured dozens of speakers in 28 sessions. The event again focused on helping attendees explore career paths, from high school through elementary and college education to post-graduation careers.

This year’s WiSTEM planning team consisted of students from various faculties at UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering, as well as physics students from UCLA and Brown University. The group sought to expand the program for this year’s conference by introducing new speakers and topics.

“We’re trying to approach some of these issues from a different angle and with a different angle so we can provide a more complete picture for individuals trying to receive instruction or potential opportunities,” said Maggie Fox, a materials science engineer at UCLA. D. Student and the main coordinator of the event.

“We’re trying to approach some of these issues from a different angle and with a different angle so we can get a more complete picture for individuals trying to receive lessons or potential opportunities,” said Maggie Fox.

WiSTEM 2022 began with an introduction by Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean Jayathi Murthy of UCLA Samueli. Murthy, herself a highly qualified engineer, shared with the participants her experiences as an engineering student in India, where she faced challenges as one of the few women in the engineering program.

“Some of you [might] I saw the movie Hidden Figures – Katherine Johnson has to walk half a mile to go to the bathroom – that was my experience when I was a student,” Murthy said.

Since becoming dean, Murthy said her goal has been to further expand access to engineering for underrepresented groups through initiatives like WE@UCLA Encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM.

“Remember, real inclusion goes deeper than just numbers,” she said, bringing home her message about inclusion and access in engineering and computing. “Remember those on whose shoulders we stand today and pay it for those who will follow.”

Day one events included scientific demonstrations on remote sensing using Google Earth’s new time-lapse feature, surface tension on superhydrophobic surfaces such as Teflon, and plasma physics. Speakers also gave presentations on salary negotiations, balancing personal and professional priorities, and funding higher education.

UCLA graduate and US Undersecretary for Research and Technology Heidi Shyu delivered the keynote address at the conference via Zoom.

This year’s keynote speaker, Hon. Heidi Shyu MS ’81, Engr. ’82, has enjoyed a distinguished career in both industry and the public service. She is currently the US Department of Defense’s undersecretary for research and technology in the Biden administrationmaking her the senior Asian-American civilian at the Pentagon.

In her position, Shyu has worked with senior officials from around the world, and she recently met with her UK and Australian counterparts, who are also women.

“The fact that three women can be chief technology officers of their nations’ defense shows that women have come a long way,” Shyu said. “Celebrate women leaders like this; I know it’s not always easy to get there.”

Shyu also served as the U.S. Army Assistant Secretary for Procurement, Logistics and Technology at the Department of Defense under the Obama administration from 2012 to 2016. Working in high-profile positions at the Department of Defense requires Shyu to be in the public spotlight while working with a wide range of technologies, but she viewed the experience as her chance to show her gratitude.

“This country has given me so many opportunities to excel in my career; It was time to give something back,” said Heidi Shyu.

“This country has given me so many opportunities to excel in my career; It was time to give something back,” Shyu said.

Early in her engineering career, Shyu said she had to do whatever it took to earn the respect of her male peers, citing a project that required her to take many risks to produce a prototype that met her peers’ very demanding specifications corresponds told her it was not possible.

“We did what was considered a… mission impossible,” Shyu said.

Day two of the conference brought together researchers from far-flung Norway, with panel discussions and breakout sessions on graduate school navigation and career networking.

Both days of the conference were all about justice, diversity and inclusion, with workshops on intersectionality, coalition and microaggressions. It is important to open a discussion to understand identities beyond a single axis of representation, said Anaelia Ovalles, PhD in computer science. Student at UCLA and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair for the conference.

“Regardless of the ‘how’, our ‘why’ [for EDI programs] remains the same: to open up a productive exchange of knowledge from different walks of life, to expand our current beliefs about it and even to question how we can best carry and support not only ourselves but also each other in the sciences,” said Ovalles.

Now that the conference has been established as an annual event, WiSTEM organizers look forward to expanding the program and hosting in-person events for future WiSTEM conferences.

Natalie Weber contributed to this story.

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