On Feb. 8, more than 100 Colorado high-schoolers – all female – spent the day at Mines for Girls Lead the Way 2014, a conference focused on women and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
The Mines collegiate section and Rocky Mountain professional section of the Society of Women Engineers partnered to host this event for the second year.
“The purpose of the conference was to get high school girls excited about the STEM fields, expose them to a variety of different industries they may not be familiar with and mostly just to have fun while getting to know girls with similar interests,” said Carly Conley, Mines SWE officer and event organizer.
“I think it is important to reach out to young women regarding STEM because diversity helps enhance creative problem solving in the workplace. Women are very capable of understanding technical subject matter, but we often approach problems differently than men. I think it is to everyone's benefit to have both ways of thinking work together to solve complex problems,” she said. “There are a lot of young women who don't realize the skills they possess, so I think it is important to help them become aware of the possibilities that await them in a STEM field.”
Conley said the day was educational not just for the students in attendance, but also for her fellow SWE members – both collegiate and professional. The conference featured speakers from industries including biomechanical engineering, civil engineering and construction, oil and gas, aerospace and the military.
“The learning most certainly does not end after high school, we are all continuously learning and benefiting from hearing about each other's experiences,” said Conley.
Organizers said both participant and parent feedback was encouraging.
“One parent said the event was ‘an excellent orientation to a truly elite school,’” said Agata Dean, adjunct instructor in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department and interim faculty advisor for the Mines SWE section.
Faculty and staff from across campus also participated in the event. Abby Hickman, from the Mines Admissions Office, organized an information session for parents; Katie Schmalzel, of Student Life, facilitated a fashion show for the girls; Lin Sherman, from the Career Center, hosted a session on resume writing; and Dr. Anne Silverman, from the Mechanical Engineering Department, led a seminar on biomedical engineering.
The Girls Lead the Way conference was sponsored by Aera Energy, Williams, BP, Merrick & Company and Stanley Consultants.