Dozens of middle school and high school girls from the Lackawanna County area descended on Johnson College in Scranton on Thursday, March 22 to learn about career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math from the experts themselves – women in STEM.
The fifth annual Girls on Fire for Technology Career Conference aimed to inspire girls to explore the world of STEM and pursue careers they may not have thought possible.
PPL Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer Christine Martin was the keynote speaker. During her speech, she surprised the girls by revealing that discoveries such as DNA, windshield wipers and even the first solar-powered home were all invented by women.
“These women probably never even heard of STEM, but they played a big part in getting us where we are today,” Martin said. “Women comprise almost half of the working population but hold less than a quarter of STEM jobs. As I see it, there is A LOT of untapped potential – and it’s right here in this room.”
Martin encouraged the girls to follow where their curiosity leads and be brave in pursuing their interests – no matter what hurdles are in their way. She also told them to explore both traditional and nontraditional STEM careers to find what truly interests them.
“Take a closer look at different fields and industries – you might find they aren’t only what you see on the surface. Take electricity companies – they aren’t just engineers and line workers – there are opportunities for environmental scientists, sustainability professionals, computer programmers and more,” said Martin.
Tamara Collae, a construction supervisor for PPL Electric Utilities, was part of a panel of women who represent STEM professions. She was joined by women engineers from Lockheed Martin, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Sordoni Construction as well as an architect from DxDempsey and two students currently pursuing college degrees in technology fields.
“As a participant on the Girls on Fire panel, I want to help young girls realize that anything is achievable with perseverance,” said Collae. “There will always be things standing in your way, but I want these girls to understand they should continue to follow their passion and never give up.”
After hearing from the panel, the students participated in interactive activities in campus labs throughout the day.