Women in STEM panel deals with bias, offers hope for the future

Release Date: November 8, 2018

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SOUTHFIELD -- The bias women still feel when pursuing careers in the STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics -- was the topic of a “Women in STEM” panel hosted by the Lawrence Technological University Alumni Association Thursday, Nov. 1. The discussion, held at Alumni House on LTU’s Southfield campus, featured three distinguished women from various sectors of the STEM industry, all Lawrence Tech alumnae -- Donna Bell (BSEE’89), Dr. Nicole Kennedy (BSEE’95), Terry Onica (BSBA’90). Along with current LTU student Marissa Bradley, they shared their experiences and insights as women in male-dominated fields.
The panelists, led by moderator Julia Elliott, addressed a number of their industry concerns — among them, the current shortage of women, and the persuasive bias still felt against girls who wish to pursue such careers. Building off of one another’s input, they additionally proposed strategies on how to challenge the standards which have given rise to the phenomenon.

“I hope one day people see women in STEM as the norm—and not the exception,” said Bradley, a biomedical engineering student and president of LTU’s chapter of Society of Women Engineers.

Panelists also shared professional advice for women currently in STEM careers. They spoke of their experience-based tactics for maneuvering the workplace -- delving into their personal leadership styles and communication methods. They also detailed how they countered any inequalities faced on their road to success. Finally, the women discussed the importance of having role models, while at the same time being role models for today’s girls. The occasion concluded with a Q&A session, during which there were no shortage of inquiries from LTU students, staff, and alumni in attendance. The panel finished on a note of optimism, for women, for the STEM industry, and for societal progress.  

“I think this panel was important as it exposed women to other women that have been successful,” said Bell, global product development quality manager at Ford Motor Co. “It’s important to be there (for other women), to be represented, to be present.”

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the top 15 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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