Virginia Tech is hosting two public panel discussions in February focusing on increasing the number of women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The events, titled “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM),” feature Virginia Tech alumnae talking about their experiences working in STEM fields and how to recruit more young women into the profession. The panels will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, and from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Virginia Tech Arlington Research Center, 900 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia.

“The panels we conducted last year were a tremendous success,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science, who created the panels in 2018 as a university outreach effort. “The women on the panels shared vivid stories of challenges and great successes working in male-dominated fields and sparked lively discussion with our audience. We look forward to hearing more Virginia Tech alumnae sharing helpful insights about their life and work experiences.”

The College of Science is sponsoring the nightly panels alongside Virginia Tech Alumni Relations, the College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Pamplin College of Business.

Alumnae panelists come from each college.

Open to the public and free of charge, each event will be followed by a networking reception with fellow alumnae and university faculty with free hors d'oeuvres and beverages. The Women in STEM event is a chance for alumnae to share experiences, build professional networks, and explore industry trends, according to organizers. The Arlington event will be livestreamed.

“This event gives us an opportunity to have critical discussions surrounding the need for representation of women in STEM,” said Julia M. Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “Conversations like this bring to light challenges faced by women in male-dominated fields.”

Scheduled Richmond panelists are Simone Acha (industrial engineering, ’87), owner of IT advisory firm Simone Acha Consulting; Elizabeth Copeland (animal and poultry sciences, ’00, a senior manager in regulatory affairs for Altria Client Services Inc., a subsidiary of Altria Group Inc.; and Ann Jennings (biology, ’85), the deputy secretary of natural resources for the Chesapeake Bay.

Hosting the event will be Susan Sumner, associate dean and director of academic programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Morton will serve as moderator for the panel.

“I look forward to continuing the discussion around the dynamic role that women play in STEM-related fields and to magnifying the avenues of opportunity for our next generation of women leaders,” Sumner said.

Scheduled Arlington panelists are Kristina Kelly (business, hospitality and tourism, and business, marketing, ’12), a manager at Blackstone Technology Group; Candice Luebbering (geography, master’s, ’07, and geospatial and environment analysis, ’11, Ph.D.), a senior research geographer and director of outreach and engagement at the American Association of Geographers; Christina Wick (computer science, bachelor’s, ’98, master’s, ’99), the vice president of engineering at Harry’s Inc., the men’s personal care products company; Catherine Woteki (human nutrition, foods and exercise, ’72, bachelor’s and ’75, master’s), a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, and a former chief scientist and under-secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research Education and Economics mission area.

Hosting the event will be Julia Ross, the dean of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering. Morton will serve as moderator of this event as well.

Register for the Feb. 26 Richmond event.

Register for the Feb. 27 Arlington event.

The Women in STEM events are part of a series of networking events being organized by Alumni Relations.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation for either or both events, please contact Katie Lafon at 540-231-8706 or kapatter@vt.edu during regular business hours at least five business days prior to the event.

“Why So Few? ” panels were held last year at Virginia Tech Arlington Research Center, the Virginia Tech School of Medicine in Roanoke, Virginia, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. 

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Women in STEM panel discussions to tackle lack of women in sciences, engineering