Last Saturday, I had the honor of attending the 3rd Annual South Bay Women’s Conference held at San Jose State University. Rachel Shellabarger from the Natural Sciences Department, Tricia Robateau, a senior Philosophy and English major, and I (Anna from the library), spent the day learning from some great female leaders of the Bay Area. The conference started out with a discussion panel which consisted of three amazing role models: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Dr. Jessie Dotson (Science Director at the NASA Ames Research Center), and Dr. Karen Singmaster (SJSU chemistry professor). The three speakers stressed the importance of strength, perseverance, and the ability to recognize, own, and celebrate each of our accomplishments and successes. In addition to the 8 workshops held by women who are successful and confident in their careers, we were fortunate to have Lilly Ledbetter as the keynote speaker. In her talk, she reflected on her journey before and after President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
Even though the conference was aimed at women in STEM, Philosophy and English student Tricia Robateau found that much of the information at the conference still applied to her. Please read her excellent reflection on the day’s events:
“Women have, for the longest time, been denied the right of progress; but as we enter into a new age, women continue to break new boundaries and venture into new realms. Women continue to usurp the status quo through higher education and entering the work force- defying all thoughts and challenges that they may face. Attending this year’s women conference on STEM, allowed me to not only get a better perspective on women and the workforce, but to inspire me to continue with my own career goals. Women, especially in the STEM fields, are often facing the leaky pipeline and struggling for recognition. Not only do we want to make our mark in history, but we also want the opportunity to pursue the career we love. Education is the foundation of a nation and allowing women to not only attend school, but to enter into STEM fields allows for the diversity that each nation needs. As policy-makers, engineers, scientists and etcetera women bring their own perspective to their field, they work hard (often harder than most because of discrimination), and they bring understanding from a holistic point of view. Since women in the STEM workforce is still relatively new, it is up to this generation to pave the way for the future, so that in a few years there will no longer be discrimination or inequality amongst men and women. While it’s true that we are working for pay, we are also working for the benefit and progress of our nation and for a better tomorrow. We are constantly reminded that diversity is the key to progress, and we must accept this if this as we enter into a new era. The guest speaker, Lilly Ledbetter is a crusader for equal pay and women’s right and she reminded us that there will be challenges that we face but that we must continue to persevere. She is a reminder to women to continue to pursue our goals, because whatever adversity we as women may face, we stand in solidarity with each other. Through the different workshops, we were given glimpse of different women leaders and inspiration and hope for a better tomorrow. We had the opportunity to see and hear the challenges other women in the STEM field face and we were given a better awareness so that we may venture back into the workforce and education system with renew vigor and strength.”