The Research Triangle Park

RTP180 Recap: Women in STEM

By Author May 23, 2019

On May 16, we dedicated RTP180 to recognizing some of the Triangle’s female STEM leaders. Did you know that Raleigh is ranked 4th for Professional STEM Opportunities in the country? At RTP180: Women in STEM, we invited 5 experts of the RTP female workforce to share their journey and ways to increase female progress in these fields.  

Jyotika Sharma of Biogen opened with the inspiration of her STEM career – her mother. She not only provided Jyotika with the same opportunities as her brothers at a time when right were not equal, but also provided education to underserved girls in India. Her support sparked Jyotika’s passion to pursue her engineering goals. SShe has joined the Triangle Women in STEM to provide opportunities for women as her mother did because to make change, you have to go outside your own household. Watch Jyotika’s talk here.    

Sarah Lasseter of Research Triangle High School learned about gender disparities in global education when she served the Peace Corps in New Guinea teaching STEM subjects. The gender gap wasn’t just overseas, she saw it in the enrollment at Research Triangle High School, too! The solution is to share your story and to be a role model because you can’t be what you can’t see. She expressed the importance of young girls to have female role models and that small pieces of representation in narratives will give them the confidence to enter a male-dominated field. Watch Sarah’s talk here.

Karen Davis of RTI International offered a different perspective as a STEM professional without a STEM degree. Graduating with a BA in Math and English, she still found a way to start off as an Industrial Engineer, and is now an Information Systems Director. She attributed her success to her thirst for knowledge and willingness to try new things without the fear of failure. While it some may feel that they need to have it all figured out at a young age, Karen showed that it is also possible to succeed as long as you have a great work ethic. Watch Karen’s talk here.

Liz Krewson of Women in Bio highlighted the strength of empowerment. As a manager, she brings a spark and energy to the workplace and recognized that leaders have the ability to determine people’s capacity to achieve. To bring real change to the numbers of women in STEM, Liz reiterated that it is our job to empower others and help them get where they need to be, no matter how big or small the impact may be. Watch Liz’s talk here.

Ruwani Biggers from Her Spark, Inc. spoke on her strong passion for tech despite not having a STEM degree. She reiterated that girls don’t necessarily have to be an expert in STEM fields; having a good understanding of the subject and making it our own can also make you a part of the STEM industry! She reminded us of the importance in showing girls that they can apply STEM in everyday life, and that could be as simple as allowing your daughter to explore her interest in video games. Watch Ruwani’s talk here.

Ready for more #RTP180? Our next topic is Robots—be sure to reserve your tickets for the June 20 event!

Thanks to presenting sponsor RTI International for enabling us to provide a platform for our community to share their knowledge. We’re also glad to have UNC-TV as our producer—if you can’t make it to any RTP180 event, you can catch the live stream beginning at 6:00PM EST the day of the show at ncchannel.org, and be sure to follow along with us on Twitter using #RTP180.