On March 18 at 11:30 a.m. the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences hosted their third annual Women in STEM Forum. Over 150 students and professors participated in the online forum.
The forum began with a video assembled by Brian Carter’s Audiovisual Team. This video featured several female STEM students and professors. Each of them shared their views on being a woman in STEM.
“If you’re passionate about it, don’t let anything hold you back,” said Bernadette Frisby, an automotive professor.
Following the video, the forum was split into three portions. In the first portion, the guest speakers introduced themselves and briefly shared their education and professional experience.
Guest speakers included Kinsey Cox, Cassandra Hopper and Katherine DiSano. Cox and Hopper are both BYU-Idaho alumna.
Cox is a data analyst at DNV GL, a renewable energy company. She acknowledged that being a STEM major was not always easy for her.
“There were a few times, where I felt really in over my head and seriously contemplated dropping out and just trying something else … At some point, I just sort of had to grit my teeth and get through it,” Cox said.
In the second portion, the guest speakers opened for a Q&A. The guest speakers responded to questions regarding issues such as finding balance between family, social life and personal well-being; doubting individual ability and ambition; and recognizing those who have influenced personal career aspirations.
Hopper shared one experience when she began her first job at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. In the first several months, loads of information was thrown at her. She felt overwhelmed, under-qualified and worried she would lose her job.
“I knew my overwhelming feelings could be resolved as long as I focused on myself spiritually,” Hopper said. “I did a lot of reading my scriptures before work, a lot of praying and a lot of focusing spiritually. As I did so, I knew everything else would fall into place. It did, and it was great.”
DiSano, a dermatologist in Ohio, also addressed feelings of inadequacy. She implored students to recognize and keep positive influences in their lives.
“You’re the sum of the five people you hang out with the most,” DiSano said. “Our friends and those people around us will either lift us up or bring us down.”
For the third portion of the forum, students split into breakout rooms based on their major. In each breakout room, professors waited to address questions and open a discussion about possible career paths.
“Our hope is that those who came were informed, inspired and invited to consider STEM and saw that they have a place here,” said Bonnie Moon, a math professor and organizer of the event.
As stated by Moon, BYU-I professors hoped participants felt encouraged to join STEM programs and walked away with an understanding of what President Nelson taught in the October 2018 General Conference.
“Women see things differently than men do,” Nelson said. “And oh, how we need your perspective.”