Lawrence Livermore women participate in online forum on STEM careers

Mar. 14, 2014

Lawrence Livermore women participate in online forum on STEM careers

Carenda L Martin, martin59@llnl.gov, 925-424-4715
A group of women from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently gathered to participate in a Google+ Hangout, "Find Your STEM Role Model," and Twitter chat promoting women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The event was hosted by NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE), which teamed up to address the shortage of women and girls in STEM fields.

Katie Gallagher, from NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, moderated the conversation with influential women from various sites across the complex. Participants included Dot Harris, director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the DOE; Rebecca Spyke-Keiser, associate deputy administrator for Strategy and Policy at NASA;Jill Fuss, scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Shannon Walker, a NASA astronaut.

The event was an inspirational discussion that showcased the career paths of women in STEM careers. They discussed their backgrounds and current careers addressing students, teachers, parents and STEM educators. A theme throughout the discussion was the importance of finding a role model and mentor who can help and support efforts toward a career in STEM. Spyke-Keiser mentioned, "It is important to have champions, both male and female, who will take a chance on you, giving you opportunities to succeed."

A fourth grade class at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Titusville, Fla., also joined in the conversation and asked several questions of the panel: "What types of projects do you participate in?"; "What is an engineer?"; "What is a Ph.D?"; "What classes are needed to be an aerospace engineer?" and "Do you use math on a daily basis?"

Harris became interested in science when on a field trip to Savannah River Laboratory in high school. It was that trip that changed her mind from pursuing a career as an English teacher to pursuing a career as an engineer.

"Just like any of you, a field trip can change your life. It can inspire you to get into a STEM field and join the STEM workforce," Harris said.

During the Google+ Hangout, eight LLNL women were actively engaged in the live Twitter chat. LLNL participants included Jessie Gaylord,Marisol Gamboa, Michaele Kashgarian, Carrie Martin, Karen Rath, Punita Sinha,Robyne Teslich and Jeene Villanueva.
The Livermore Lab's Twitter account @Livermore_Lab was mentioned 56 times during the chat, resulting in 242,038 impressions (individuals reached).
  • 243 tweets used the #WomeninSTEM hashtag during the hour-long chat, not including retweets.
  • #WomeninSTEM was trending on Twitter in Washington, D.C. by the end of the hour-long chat, meaning the hashtag was highlighted on Twitter as one of the 10 most-used terms at that moment.

The experience of getting together to participate in the chat helped activate LLNL women researchers who had never before used Twitter, and it reinforced that LLNL is a place where women thrive. This was the first time LLNL participated in such an event and paved the way for hosting or participating in future Twitter chats.

An overview of the event, including the video and online conversation on Twitter, can be found on Storify.

March is Women's history month. For more information on women in STEM careers visit the Department of Energy's Women @ Energy website for a long list of profiles of women, including many from LLNL, engaged in STEM careers throughout the DOE complex.

The Million Women Mentors campaign, an initiative of STEMconnector, is seeking women in STEM fields to take the pledge to mentor young women. The goals of the campaign are to increase the percentage of U.S. high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers, increase the percentage of U.S. young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM fields and to increase the percentage of U.S. women staying in STEM careers. For more information and to take the pledge, visit the Million Women Mentors website.