Mentoring and recruiting young women in the STEM fields will be the focus of two events scheduled this month, part of separate initiatives spearheaded by Villanova University's School of Business and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack to promote science, technology, engineering, and math education and jobs for women.
Moving beyond computer-program coding, the events are aimed more specifically at prompting young women to take STEM classes and ask for higher salaries and promotions in STEM fields.
On Friday, Million Women Mentors-PA will hold a statewide recruitment breakfast aimed at bringing in 3,000 men and women in STEM careers who want to become mentors to girls and young women considering those fields.
"We want to guarantee 3,000 mentors across the state to give at least 20 hours a year to mentor girls through middle school up through their early careers," said Phoebe Coles, co-chair for the Million Women Mentors-PA chapter.
The 8 a.m. event will take place at Montgomery County Community College–West Campus, 101 College Dr., Pottstown, and is open to the public.
Stack serves as honorary chair of Million Women Mentors-PA as Pennsylvania becomes the 38th state to launch the nationwide initiative. The idea is to increase the percentage of high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers and/or undergraduate degrees in STEM, and young women staying and advancing in STEM careers through workforce-mentoring programs.
"The Million Women Mentors supports the engagement of one million mentors to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers," the organization said in a news release.
The cost is $15 to attend.
On Jan. 28, Villanova Business School holds its second annual VU Women in Tech Conference, starting at 9 a.m. at the university's Radnor Township campus. The event is free to attend; lunch will be served.
The conference features a lineup of about 20 speakers, including keynote speaker Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer and founder of BreastCancer.org, a resource for expert medical and personal information on breast health and breast cancer. Weiss will explain how she uses technology to reach millions of people and her vision to map a patient's life digitally.
Joyce E.A. Russell, dean of the Villanova School of Business, said the event will includes a mix of Villanova alums and women in STEM fields.
"We want to show there are some very cool jobs out there that involve technology," Russell said. "Women mature into tech a little late in the game. They may be terrified of taking programming in high school or college, but some juniors and seniors take on quant or statistics class almost by accident and just fall in love with it."
Many young women "need to know how taking one finance or analytics class can open up job opportunities for them," she said. "We've seen communications or marketing and accounting majors really take a liking to STEM late in their education, too late to make it their major sometimes, so we want them to start taking these classes early."
Lori Scott, CIO for biodiversity company NatureServe, will talk about how her job relies heavily on data analytics, as will Yasmin Mustafa, founder of ROAR for Good, an emergency-notification start-up for women.
Cyber-security is another hot job space for women, "which is why we offer a masters of science in cyber-security," Russell said. "We'll have one speaker who will pretend to be a hacker, and she will be on stage with the head of corporate security at a large company."
Sukie Mukhopadhyay, manager of cybersecurity and privacy at PwC and Christine Fossaceca, cybersecurity researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, will portray hacker and target, respectively.