By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The InForum Michigan non-profit and Medical doctor and NASA Astronaut Mae Jemison combined efforts May 25 to promote gender equity in the STEM field.
During the meeting at The Henry, science, technology, engineering and math were the topic of conversation.
InForum Michigan, a nonprofit organization focused on building gender equity in business leadership announced its new inSTEM initiative.
“The inSTEM focuses on developing interest and qualifications in girls and women for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as the automotive industry, through mentorships and partnerships with existing K-12 STEM programs in Michigan,” a press release said.
InForm President and CEO Terry Barclay said closing the STEM talent gender gap is important to the future of Michigan with the automotive industry.
“Less women than men enter the field which is why it is important to create initiatives, inform and recruit young women,” she said. “Young women see what they can be from women who already hold STEM positions through sharing experiences.”
According to a U.S. Department of Commerce study, 14 percent of all engineers are women, 25 percent of all IT professionals are women and 84 percent of science and engineering jobs are held by men.
The study also says, “available jobs in these fields are set to increase to 17 percent by 2024 compared to non-STEM employment.”
Barclay also said that, “STEM exposure is important because young women don’t know about women in STEM and working together is vital to make communities stronger for the future.”
As the first woman of color to travel to space as a crew member of Space Shuttle Endeavor, Jeminson shared her STEM experiences during her keynote speech.
“It is important for more women to study and work in STEM fields, but we have to understand why it makes a difference,” she said. “Women have a set at the table because they bring a different view and experiences than others.”
Jeminson said her life experiences, including growing up in Chicago, going to medical school and working with NASA, have all taught her valuable lessons over the years.
“I’ve learned not to doubt myself but dare to use my place at the table in a world filled with ideas,” she said. “At every stage of my life I knew I wanted to be a part of STEM and participate in it.”
She also cited InForum as an important organization to help share the opportunities in STEM fields and education to improve the quality of life.
“We have to cut the path, and using connections in our communities to share opportunities for young women in STEM can do that,” Jeminson said.
For more information on the inSTEM initiative or InForum Michigan go www.inforummichigan.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)