This post comes courtesy of Aysha Cotterill one of this term’s co-op students at Zero Gravity Labs.
A Women In STEM Panel
On July 20th, the LoyaltyOne co-ops (including the four co-ops who work at Zero Gravity Labs) gathered for a casual panel and pizza lunch at the main office. The topic? Women working in STEM. The student-organized event featured Megha Bettadpur, Sorren Isler, and Maria D’Angelo, all talented and ambitious women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) at LoyaltyOne.
The event began with students slowly wandering in, unsure of what to expect and eagerly awaiting the arrival of pizza. However, once the conversation got rolling, students were quick to forget about their hunger. We started by getting a quick intro from each panelist, and then dove into the main theme of the panel – their experiences being women in the male-dominated field of STEM.
The conversation spanned from topics like microaggressions (casual/everyday slights or insults, which can easily go unnoticed), to building relationships with mentors. Coming from different backgrounds, each panelist was able to provide their own perspective on these subjects. Everyone had unique stories to tell, but could often relate to similar experiences shared by the other speakers.
What I Took Away
One part that stuck with me was when a panelist shared some of her own experiences dealing with microaggressions. She told us about how in a previous position, her colleague tended to act more surprised when she had a good idea than when a male colleague did. It was as if they didn’t expect her to bring smart solutions to the table. I was happy to hear her talk about this because it’s easy for these small actions to go unnoticed unless someone points them out.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who could relate to some of the experiences that were shared about being a woman in STEM. However, the highlight of panel for me was hearing suggestions about how we can all work together to solve the problem. I think everyone left the room with a better understanding of the issue and some ideas on how we can solve it. I’m sure that these small changes, such as making an effort to recognize unconscious biases and being more aware of our words and actions, will help to create a better environment for women in STEM at LoyaltyOne and wherever the co-ops go afterwards.
Aysha Cotterill is an a student at the University of Waterloo.
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