In 2010, AAUW published landmark research in a report titled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics — a report that ignited nationwide interest in the shortage of women in STEM. On November 4th, AAUW Honolulu stoked that interest with its panel discussion, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing at the Manoa Innovation Center.
Panel members and participants examined the current state of underrepresentation of women in engineering and computing. They also discussed practical ideas for educators and employers seeking to foster gender diversity, and identified new ways of conceptualizing the STEM fields for beginning students to pique interest. Economic impacts of the shortfall were also highlighted and elaborated on by Joanna Amberger, president of AAUW Honolulu.
“The lack of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics means the US is less competitive in the global marketplace because half the population isn’t proportionally represented in STEM,” said Amberger. “Industries that have been inclusive of women benefited from a more comprehensive point of view. Companies involved in STEM would see the same competitive advantage by supporting STEM education for girls and making their workplaces welcoming to women.”
Notably, the forum panel consisted of women who work in high technology, as well as a high school student with plans of pursuing a future in the field. The panel members included:
- Robbie Melton — Executive Director and CEO of the High Technology Development
Corporation (HTDC), former Director for Entrepreneurial Innovation for the Maryland
Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO). She is also co-founder and past president
of Women In Bio, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs, executives and career women in the life sciences.
- Betty White — Head of School of Sacred Hearts Academy, an all girls’ school. Former chair of the Central Union Preschool Committee and served on the Governor’s leadership committee for the International Women’s Conference for the past five years; White is currently serving on the 20th Anniversary of the Domestic Violence Action Center.
- Jackie Noborikawa — Currently James B. Castle High School’s Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative delegate, Noborikawa is President of the Student Council, Key Club, and the National Honor Society. She hopes to pursue her interest in mathematics through a career in cryptography. Jackie is the daughter of Debra Noborikawa, a Seattle University graduate with a degree in Diagnostic Ultrasound who currently works as an Echosonographer on Oahu.
- Sunshine Pualani Walker Topping — Vice President of Human Resources at Hawaiian Telcom, Topping’s 20 year career includes stints at ‘ike (formerly known as DataHouse Holdings Company), Adtech/Spirent Communications and The Boeing Company.