This week kicked off the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 10th – March 21st) at United Nations Headquarters in New York and will focus on challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. This event will also concentrate on the themes of access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.
I had the opportunity to participate by meeting some of these brilliant and inspiring women and learned about the important work of The Metro NY Chapter and the National Board of USNC-UN Women. The event on March 11th at the Church Center for the UN Chapel began with an engaging panel of women leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that discussed women in these fields, specifically addressing the alarmingly low rate of female participation.
The panel moderated by Jean Kumagai, the Senior Editor of IEEE Spectrum Magazine, discussed in depth the gender gap in STEM and what can be done to improve this situation. The panelists, an impressive and diverse group of women with such impressive accomplishments awed the audience with their insights and advise. They included: Dr. Patricia Falcone, the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House; Dr. Kelly M. George, an Associate Principal Chemist at L’Oreal USA’s Research Innovation Skin Care Development Laboratories and recipient of the L’Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellow in 2004; Dr. Sharon Langenbeck, former Section Manager for Mechanical Engineering at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and current Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship Committee Chairman; Dr. Laurie Leshin, Dean of the School of Science at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and a member of the science team for the Mars Curiosity Rover Mission; and Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and author of “Women Who Don’t Wait In Line.” To learn more about Reshma and her personal and professional accomplishments, see Asiance’s interview with her here, http://www.asiancemagazine.com/2010/03/02/first-south-asian-american-woman-to-run-for-congress
Later that evening the panelists and members of the Metro NY Chapter and the National Board of USNC-UN Women gathered to celebrate and honor these individuals and organizations advancing women and girls in STEM at a wine reception held at the Consulate General of Hungary.
While enjoying the musical performance from Timbila, a vocal and instrumental blend of traditional instruments from Southern Africa, I had the pleasure of speaking and mingling with some of the honorees and panelists. I was also intrigued and impressed to speak with Rebecca Caruso, EVP of Corporate Communications who was accepting an award on behalf of the evening’s sponsor, L’Oreal. They were honored for their longstanding commitment to women and science through their international L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science and L’Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship Programs. Each year they support and inspire women to excel and pursue their careers and passions.
Attending this event has given me a new perspective about women in science and technology, especially being a beauty aficionado, it was a truly inspiring way to look at the world of beauty. So often we read and speak about beauty products but forget to think about the many women and scientists developing and researching these products. It was also a great honor to know that Asians are among the groups that most excel in this area and hopeful to see this improve even more in the future!