Dallas SWE kicked off the FY15 year on Tuesday, September 16, with Sheri Jenkinson, founder of WATT (Women Advancing Technology Together) and Ipseity at our first professional meeting. The night started with thirty attendees mingling and networking over dinner and drinks at the Coffee House Café in Dallas.
As Sheri took the floor, she started off highlighting the diversity found within Dallas SWE by pointing out the various generations and backgrounds present at the meeting. To get the discussion started, she then asked the hard questions: What do we, as women engineers, want? Why are the participants in STEM fields while other women leave? Why do are young girls losing interest in math and science? The members of Dallas SWE had interesting insights.
Input was given from the educators and the mid-level professionals, from long-time engineers to new graduates. The main point of discussion became why the women present in the meeting choose to stay in STEM fields, with a majority sighting solid role models of both genders, a strong support network, and the ability to be thick-skinned in our surroundings. Furthermore, the members of Dallas SWE discussed why girls and young women lose interest in math and science. Answers ranged vastly; some said it’s because girls lack encouragement at a young age, from the toys their given to the clothes they wear. Others say it’s because young girls are not taught to learn from failure and it impacts their commitment to math and science as these subjects get more difficult over the years.
The discussion Sheri led had many thinking of their own career choices, past and future. She encouraged all participants to take responsibility for their career paths and discouraged everyone to downplay their success, as women often do. Her discussion also reinforced the need for successful women in STEM fields to reach out a mentor girls from a young age, so girls of all ages have role models as they navigate through their youth.
~Zaineb Ahmed, Dallas SWE Award Committee Chair