Panel: Inspiring Women in STEM

March 13th, 2014 - Brown University

In March of 2014, I organized a panel discussion at Brown around careers and work-life balance in Applied Maths areas. I invited five distinguished and very inspiring women who work in those areas and led a team of about twenty Brown students. The team, which was dealing with multiple aspects- logisitcs around speakers, relevant questions to raise during the panel discussion, reception following the panel, advertisement across several deparments at Brown, taking photos etc. -made this panel a very useful and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Some of the questions that motivated me to organize this panel were:
"What are successful careers in math-related fields? What should we do now to get there?"
"How can we have a fulfilling life while building a flourishing career?"
"What particular challenges arise for women, and how can we overcome them?"

Our Inspiring Women were:
-Barbara Boni, Technology Manager, Dassault Systems
-Karin Moellering, senior consultant, McKinsey & Company
-Maria Gordina, Professor of Mathematics, University of Connecticut
-Nancy Kopell, Professor of Mathematics and Co-Director of Center for BioDynamics, Boston University
-Allison O'Hair, Operations Research and Statistics, MIT School of Management

Ivana Petrovic and Michael Snarski.

Our invitees were exceptional speakers, with lots of humor, creating a very comfortable atmosphere, but above all, they were willing to speak and transmit their experiences in the most candid way. They were such an inspiration for us. After the talk, many students felt so much better about choosing their careers and living their lives!

Some of the great advice heard during the panel:

"How do you find a career that is a right fit for you?" ... "You date!" :)
" For most of the people, finding a career that suits them is a random walk. Just try things, choose something and stay with the choice, knowing that it is possible to change."
"You will know that you found the right career for you once you stop caring about what other people say/think."
"Be honest with yourself. You can feel what you really want."
"Think long term. What do you really want to be?"

"Usually we plan, plan, plan....but then the life happens....It's important to understand and accept that we can't control everything."

"In order to stay in balance, it's important to have a hobby outside the work that you really love doing. Something that takes your full attention once you start doing it, and really takes all your mind off the work...For example, skiing, dancing, joga…"

"Forgive yourself!!!"

Finally, here are some of the photos of the evening: