White House Council on Women and Girls: A Focus on Girls and STEM

Uploaded by whitehouse on 24.04.2012

Lisa Jackson: Good morning, everyone.
Thanks for joining us.
Welcome to the White House.
And welcome to this exciting roundtable on STEM for girls.
Girls and STEM roundtable.
I want to start by thanking the White House
Council on Women and Girls and Sarah Horowitz who has
invited most of you here and made sure that we put
this together, invited me here.
I am thrilled to be here today to be able to host
what I think is going to be a wonderful discussion.
We're so happy to have you here, but also happy to
have all the folks who are watching us online and
in their classrooms.
We're very glad that you can join us as well.
Let me also say how exciting it is to see so
many incredible, young leaders and young women
in our audience today.
As many of you may know, I am the Administrator of the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
I know it's a mouthful.
We call it EPA.
At the EPA, science is the backbone of every decision
we make and every action that we take.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise
that I believe STEM education is critical to
our country's future, and that as a woman scientist,
bringing more young women into STEM is something
I'm very passionate about.
There is a great need, but it's also a great
opportunity to engage young women in STEM
education, and encourage them to seek careers
in STEM fields.
Now, like the women in this room, I've had an
interest in math and science since I was young.
At the time it didn't strike me as all that unique.
You see, I went to an all girls school in my
hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, and like all of
the other young women in my class, I tried my
hardest, I worked hard, and did as well as I could.
It really wasn't until college when I began
studying chemical engineering at Tulane University
that I found myself in most cases to be
one of the few women in my class.
As you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock for me,
after going to an all girls high school.
I saw much the same thing as I went on to pursue my
master's degree in chemical engineering
at Princeton University, where my classmates and
instructors were also predominantly men.
Now, things have gotten better.
When I was a student about 154,000 women were
pursuing master's degrees in science and engineering
across the country.
By 2003, about 20 years later, that number had
grown to 270,000.
Fifty years ago, ten percent of the doctorates
in science and engineering went to women.
Today that number has grown to 40 percent.
This weekend I spent some time talking to brilliant
young college women who were part of scientific
teams that submitted projects to EPA's People,
Prosperity and the Planet Competition.
In the last two years, we've seen some great
examples of young women scientists at the
White House Science Fair.
And I took note last year when young women took top
honors in all three age groups in the first ever
Google Science Fair.
So the future is looking very, very bright indeed.
Each year a new class of young women graduates from
America's colleges and universities.
They're eager to take their jobs and places in
math and science, to become doctors, to become
engineers, to become CEOs, to become teachers.
But even with all that progress, you all know we
still have work to do.
For one thing, we know that adding more women to
STEM fields would undoubtedly benefit our economy.
It's clear that much of our future prosperity
rests on new innovations and advances in scientific
and technical and medical fields.
President Obama has made it a priority to invest in
research and development, not only because American
scientists and inventors are doing work critical on
public health or energy security, but also because
we know that new ideas lead to new opportunities
for American workers.
Think of how far we've already come.
Think how many next big things we've already seen.
And for most of our history, half of our team
of innovators was sitting on the sidelines.
It's exciting to imagine what can happen once those
talents are also unleashed.
Bringing more women into STEM fields can also have
a positive effect on science itself.
Whenever I meet and talk with young women, I
encourage them to throw out their stereotypical
ideas of what a "scientist" is supposed to look like.
Being a scientist doesn't have to mean -- although
it can mean, but it doesn't have to mean --
being in a lab all by yourself, happiest with
your test tubes.
It can mean that if that's what you want it to mean.
But it can also mean getting out in the
community and talking to people, and working with
them to improve their lives.
It can mean taking action to protect children's health.
It can mean helping impoverished communities
around the world get access to clean water.
Or finding solutions to rebuild ecosystems
for endangered species.
The traditional impression of science and scientists
is that they are detached and maybe a little antisocial.
But the truth is that science touches our daily
lives, and we need more women and men studying
science as a way to make our lives better.
Now I want to save as much time for our panel
discussion as possible, so let me stop there to
introduce our video.
It's titled, "Girls in STEM."
This tells the story of the brilliant young women
scientists and engineers who participated in the
White House Science Fair not too long ago.
It was really something to see.
I'm very glad to share it with you and to have you
with us today.
Thank you very much.
♪ Music Playing ♪
President Obama: A belief that we belong on
the cutting edge of innovation, that's in
ideas as old as America itself.
It's in our DNA.
We know that what these young people are doing,
this is what's going to make a difference in this
country over the long haul.
Speaker: I created a nanoparticle that's kind of like the
Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment.
Speaker: A UV light lunch box that kills bacteria
off fruits and food.
Speaker: My project was I actually built detection
method for buried land mines.
Speaker: I did my project on sheep genetics in Cotswold
sheep, the natural color versus the white genes.
Speaker: The Smart phone works with a Bluetooth enabled
heart rate monitor to detect if there's a
medical emergency and then notify contacts of where
you are, what happened, what's going on, where
they can find you.
Speaker: We created an adaptive hand device for a girl in Georgia.
President Obama: So did you play the game or
did you design it the game?
Speaker: I designed the game.
President Obama: You designed the game. Sheesh.
That's pretty impressive.
Speaker: So curing cancer treatments, there are
two major problems.
First, it's not specific towards cancer cells, so
it kills normal cells in addition to cancer cells.
So that has very low patient quality of life.
And then the second problem is although it
kills the majority of cancer cells, it doesn't
really kill the source of cancer cells.
So my nanoparticle can detect cancer cells in the
body, eradicate the cancer cells, and then monitor
the treatment response.
The objective of this project really was just to
personalize cancer treatment to make it more
effective and how it can overcome a problem that
all of society is facing.
President Obama: I'm very proud of you.
Speaker: Thank you.
President Obama: Go cure cancer.
Speaker: Thank you.
President Obama: I like that.
Speaker: First of all, I have cousins who live in
Mozambique and have to deal with the daily threat
of land mines.
I heard their stories and was really inspired by
what they had to say.
So, while all this was running through my head, I
was at the piano one night playing the piano, and I
noticed that when I played certain chords or notes
the strings on a nearby banjo would resonate.
And so I heard that and made the connection and
thought maybe I can use the same principle to
detect buried land mines.
So I started doing this kind of research, and
somehow ended up at the White House.
President Obama: So this hasn't just a very
direct application to the sheep that are on your farm.
Speaker: Yes, sir.
President Obama: Fantastic.
Speaker: There's only 2500 registered Cotswolds in
the United States, and that includes white
and natural color.
Over the years the people in the Cotswold industry
have bred out the natural colors because the fiber
artists want just the white wool to dye and use
for different things, but now that people have
realized there's such a decline in the numbers of
natural colors they're really trying to breed
them back and pull them back into the industry.
But it's really, really hard to get those
high-quality natural colored sheep because the
genetic gene pool is so low.
When you go to look for natural color sheep it's
really difficult to find them, and it's been my
passion to breed and bring the natural colors back
into the industry.
I wanted to be in the fiber industry and have
livestock and have the sheep so that I could
learn more for myself about the animals and the
livestock industry and just take part in that
core agriculture process.
President Obama: I did not realize that
ultraviolet light can actually kill bacteria.
Speaker: Yes.
President Obama: I did not realize that.
Well, it's a pretty spiffy invention.
Speaker: First you put the fruit in.
Then you close the lid and turn it on.
You wait for ten seconds.
After those ten seconds, you open the lunch box,
you simply take your fruit out, and you eat it.
A lunch box that helps people.
I never thought I could do that.
Speaker: The ultimate goal was to help Danielle to write
with her preferred hand.
Speaker: She is right hand dominant and she didn't
have most of the fingers on her right hand, and she
really wanted to write with her right hand.
So we decided that we would help her write.
Speaker: I know something about living with a limb
difference because I have one myself, so we began to
make prototypes for -- to help her hold a pencil.
And we ended up using a simple design of a
platform, and a cylinder adjacent to it, in which
you could insert a pencil, and just strapped on to
her hand and then she started to write.
Speaker: The first thing we want to show you is usually the
user can check your status by clicking on the status
button and you can see I'm a little nervous so my
heart rate's a little high.
We do have a series of checks to ensure that
there are no false alarms, and let's say you do not
press the check because you actually are in need of help.
It starts issuing a loud audible alert as well.
Speaker: As you'll see in a minute or two.
Speaker: It's saying a medical emergency has been detected.
The next thing that happens is a text message
is automatically sent to her cell phone, and at the
same time your medical information is displayed
on the screen.
So paramedics and anyone else that shows up can see
your past history and things like that.
Which could be helpful in the event of an emergency.
Speaker: One of the huge advantages of ours is that
you don't actually need to press a button to summon
help, you know, because when you need help the
most is when you can't get it yourself.
Speaker: The most unique thing about it is it is mobile.
You can take it anywhere.
And this is on your cell phone, which is something
most people carry around all the time.
So I think that's an awesome feature, and also
as Ada mentioned, the fact that it's passive.
You don't actually have to press the button.
In the event of a heart attack it will
automatically send alerts to your contacts.
Speaker: This is an idea that really resonated with all of us.
We all have, you know, relatives that aren't
living with us, you know, in the house, who are far away.
I know my grandfather had a stroke in the back yard
and we, you know, didn't know exactly what was
going on, you know, for a while, and always kind of
wondered, you know, what if we'd been able to,
you know, find him sooner or whatever.
This is to just kind of, you know, give them that
security of having, you know, family members when
they need them.
Speaker: In this game I want people to be
environmental, pretty much.
What the game is about, there's polluting
factories in the city and the other people can't
breathe, so this one right here has to pretty much
like go around and collect like coins and hearts and
get the score to 500 so they can win the game and
people can breathe better.
President Obama: It's really cool, though.
Speaker: Thanks.
President Obama: How long did it take you to design it?
Speaker: A couple months.
President Obama: Do you want to be a game designer?
Speaker: Umm, maybe.
President Obama: Yeah, you're only in fifth
grade, you don't have to make up your mind now.
President Obama: It's young people
like you that make me so confident that America's
best days are still to come.
When you work and study and excel at what you're
doing at math and science, when you compete in
something like this, you're not just trying to
win a prize today, you're getting America in shape
to win the future.
Speaker: What I would say to people, especially girls,
who are interested in STEM activities, is that
you should be.
Speaker: Find other people who have similar interests,
and I think working in a team helps a lot.
Like you can bounce ideas off of each other, you're
not on your own.
Speaker: Just go out there and go for it and do it.
I mean, there are infinite possibilities.
You can do anything you want.
Just being a woman doesn't hold you back from anything.
Speaker: I feel like I can make a difference, and develop
technology that's really going to help people.
Speaker: As a kid I asked a lot of why questions and I
found that science and math usually were the
answers, the coolest answers to all of my why questions.
Speaker: By knowing that your ideas might change the
future is something that I like.
Speaker: I mean, it's a great field for everybody and
there's nothing, there's nothing that should hold
women back or put men in front of us.
Speaker: Don't give up on the first thing that doesn't work out.
Keep going, keep trying until you succeed.
And after you succeed, keep going and keep going.
Speaker: Don't be shy.
Try your hardest to do what you can do because
sometimes if you try hard enough you can make it
come true.
♪ Music Plaing ♪
Lisa Jackson: How about that.
And to my point there was not one girl,
young woman in that video whose project didn't
center around helping people, making life better
for someone, that their projects were inspired by
noticing something.
And I think that that's one of the things that
women bring, is compassion to our field in
a different way.
So now it is my extraordinary honor
to introduce our panelists and begin our conversation.
Please join me in welcoming each of them as
they take their place on the panel.
First we'll begin with Dr. Cady Coleman.
Cady is a NASA scientist with over 180 days in space.
She flew two missions aboard the Space Shuttle
Columbia and spent 159 days aboard the
International Space Station last year as the
lead robotics and science officer.
Dr. Coleman came to NASA in 1992 with a B.S.
in Chemistry from MIT, and a Ph.D.
in Polymer Science and Engineering from the
University of Massachusetts.
Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S.
Air Force in 1983, she retired in 2009 as a Colonel.
Our second panelist is Jocelyn Goldfein.
Jocelyn is the Director of Engineering at Facebook,
where she helps manage the engineering team and drive
products like news feed, photos, and search.
Prior to Facebook Jocelyn was an engineering leader
at VMware and helped grow the R&D team from 100 to
over 2000, ultimately serving as Vice President
of Desktop Products.
Other career highlights include cofounding a start-up.
Jocelyn has a B.S. in
Computer Science from Stanford University. Jocelyn.
We could so guess she was from Facebook.
Bianca Bailey is a senior Chemical
Engineering major at Howard University here
in Washington, D.C.
And as the President of the Howard University
Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, Bianca
has volunteered for the last two years in Kenya
and has worked on development projects
in Brazil and Haiti.
She's conducted groundbreaking research in
the field of nanotechnology, and will
be attending the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign for a Master's degree in
Environmental Engineering.
And Dr. Jean Hernandez is President of
Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington,
and has over 30 years of experience in higher education.
Edmonds Community College has received over three
and a half million dollars in National Science
Foundation STEM grants, and considers itself a hub
for STEM educational pathways.
Dr. Hernandez serves on the board of College Spark
Washington and a number of workforce and economic
development boards, as well as being an active member of the
American Association of Community Colleges.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Hernandez.
Okay, women.
I'm going to start with a couple of questions before
we open it up to the audience, and we're also
going to have questions coming in from those who tweet.
So -- or from Twitter, right?
All right.
So, let me throw this one out and then if each one
of you can take a turn at answering, it'd be great.
Please tell us about one of the coolest, most
exciting experiences you've had during your STEM career.
And Dr. Hernandez, maybe it would be great if you
could talk about the exciting careers that
students at your college are pursuing with
their STEM degrees.
Dr. Cady Coleman: Well, I knew coming from NASA,
first of all, I had to wear my jacket.
Because otherwise how would you know?
And that is why we're here, is, you know, women
can do all sorts of things, and often we, you
know, the people around us don't think that.
And no matter what the first question was going
to be, I was determined that I would get to just
show you a little bit about what my world is
like so that you could realize, A, how much goes
into it; and B, that it's your world, too.
So Chris, if you could do the slides.
So this was my home for 159 days, the
International Space Station.
I loved it.
Next. And this is just a little two-minute kind of video
that's just going to show you a little bit about
what it's like to go up there and be part of this.
And when I was your age, no one would have looked
at me in high school and said, yeah, she'll be on
that space station, you know, she'll be living
right there with five other people -- happens to
be guys in this case, but we certainly have both men
and women living on the space station at any one time.
And I don't think anybody understood that I would be
practicing putting on a space suit, learning about
the Russian space ship I launched and landed in Russia.
I learned about the U.S.
space suit and all that, and actually years and
years of practicing and training.
And it's not as if I am the smartest one in the
whole room here or even in the crowd that I'm there
with, it is that I've worked hard to create some
opportunities, and those put me here on launch night.
This is my family, my son and my husband on launch night.
I will tell you, saying goodbye is very difficult,
and yet they understand that this is something
that's really important to me, that space exploration
is something that people just do and I happen to be
one of them.
Of course I'm the one that has to beg the boys to
walk slowly and take small steps.
But up there it doesn't matter what size you are.
There is, it's a really big deal when people
leave the planet.
And a lot of us have the talents that we need.
A Bachelor's degree and three years experience is
the minimum requirement to be an astronaut to sit
in this seat.
It's not so much, but you need that technical degree
to be here in the Soyuz, there's three of us that
go up at a time.
So we're in the Soyuz.
We docked with the space station right before last
Christmas, so about a little bit over a year ago.
And I like, this is my favorite part of the whole
movie, because it's not about floating around in
space, it is about flying.
And flying right next to us -- and this is
important to see -- is the supply ship.
And it was my job as the lead robotics officer to
control the robotic arm, reach out, grab that, and
then attach it to the International Space Station.
And it's something I trained for, I worked for
-- I also had very good hair up there, as you can see.
And Chris, let's go ahead and go
to the next slide.
So just a few slides.
I just want to emphasize the robotics here.
It's, there's only two of us.
If you could go to the next slide, Chris.
The two of us that have ever done this reached out
with the robotic arm, grappled the free flying
supply ship, and it's going to happen again in
the next few weeks when Space Exp launches their
supply ship to the International Space Station.
I think the new date for that is May 7th.
It's been a tiny bit delayed, but you know
what, in the space business we go when we're ready.
And if you could go to the next slide.
Nicole Stott and I are actually the only two
people on the planet or off the planet that have
captured supply ships.
And right now Don Pettit is scheduled to do this,
but it's been delayed.
It might delay all the way until Suni Williams gets
up there, and then it will actually begin to be
perhaps a trend that only girls can capture supply ships.
Next. I trained for space walks,
never got to do one, but I was ready.
That was the important part.
Next. We did a lot of science experiments.
It's a fluids experiment.
Next. A lot of different kinds of medical experiments.
Next. That's our freezer.
Some cool robotics.
This is Robonaut, our seventh crew member.
Next. And if you could kill the sound, Chris,
that would be great.
So we do a lot of -- a lot of science,
but, you know, there's magic in science and
engineering, and, you know, it's just plain old fun.
Next, Chris.
I'm a musician, an amateur one, but I like
to play, so I brought my flute and others up with me.
Those are Irish flutes.
Next. And this is our window on the world.
That's, I like this picture because the space
station looks small and the Earth looks big, which
it does when you're up there.
It's a very special view, and the reason I share
these pictures is, you know, maybe to brag just a
little bit, but really to share with you that this
is an amazing world and you and your friends could
be part of it. Next.
This is, and you should learn your geography
before you go, but this is a beautiful picture
of Italy. Next.
Where I'm from, Cape Cod, Long Island,
New York City, New England.
Next. And then seen in a different way that kind of
to me shares the sentiment of seeing a place that you
know and you love and your whole family's there, and
then realizing that you're going to leave it in just
a second because you go so fast, but you'll be back.
Next. This is where we take those pictures from.
Next. The cupola.
And this picture is not me but Dr. Tracy Caldwell, a
fellow chemist, and I love this picture because it is
a picture of a human being in space looking back at
the planet we come from, and there's no way that
only guys should be in a picture like this.
It's all -- and I'm not saying that to be
funny, I mean I know it kind of is, it's because
we are part of the planet and we bring a lot
to the planet.
And if you start doing things without the talents
that women bring, you are just not doing them
good enough. Next.
So this is some of our other women from NASA.
Peggy Whitson was the commander of the space
station at the time, she's now the Chief
of the Astronaut Office.
Pam Melroy, the commander of the space shuttle,
and Sandy Magnus. Next.
So your face belongs here.
And that's why we're here today.
Thank you very much.
Lisa Jackson: Jocelyn.
Jocelyn Goldfein: Oh, my goodness.
That's a tall act to follow.
I'm a software engineering by training,
and so what I do for a living is make software or
more recently lead teams that make software, and I
think one of the coolest things about software is
that you start with absolutely nothing.
You have a computer, you have your brain, and you
can create something from nothing.
And generally that's, you know, and the first time
that happens it's like magic.
It's like, wow.
I made magic happen.
Because now there's something here where there
was nothing before.
And so what -- and so the first time that's just a
thrill if you love to make things,
any kinds of things.
If you are artistic or creative, then that
feeling of creating software out of nothing
is satisfying in and of itself.
Something that for me is even as much or more
motivating as that is when what I've created, what
I've made gets used by other people.
And so there have been so many thrilling moments
from I would say the first time after college when I
really built some software and we put it in
production with a customer, and I kind of
had that sinking but, you know, sort of frightening
but still thrilling sensation of oh, this is
not a homework assignment any more, you know, this
is actually real and if, you know, and if I mess it
up then, like, someone's gonna have trouble
doing their jobs.
But if I did it right, then this is really going
to help people out.
And I think that there is probably no -- very few
software companies on the planet right now where you
get more of that kind of sense of satisfaction than
Facebook, because when I build a new feature on
Facebook, when we shipped the new homepage last
fall, we are literally touching hundreds of
millions of people on this planet who use that, who
depend on it, who rely on it to keep in touch with
friends, to share news, to find out what's going on
in each other's lives.
And one of the features that I contributed to in
that homepage launch is not actually visible, but
it's a feature we call Major Life Events, which
is that we figured out that, you know, one thing
that makes people really unhappy is when they, you
know, check Facebook sporadically and then they
miss big news.
A friend had a baby or got into college and
they missed it.
They didn't see it on Facebook.
And, you know, there's so many sort of sad stories
where that happens, and there's no reason.
We have all the data we need in the back end to
know when something really important and exciting
happens to you because that story is full of likes.
And full of comments from people saying
congratulations, oh, my goodness, wish I was there.
And so by analyzing that data we can tell that this
is a story none of your friends should miss and
run it at the very top of their feeds and make sure
that it doesn't sort of fade off the page.
So just that one little change sort of remarkably
changes the character of what you see every day.
Make sure you don't miss those important moments.
And knowing that that touches so many people
around the planet, but also especially so many
people that are personally my friends and family,
that was really fulfilling.
Lisa Jackson: Bianca.
Bianca Bailey: For me, one of my most exciting
experiences is just being a woman in STEM.
A young woman in STEM.
Being a young woman in STEM means that there are
lots of opportunities allotted to you, and
especially to me.
And the big, the big thing is if you can take
advantage of all the opportunities that it has
to offer, trust me, trust me, trust me, it will
benefit you greatly.
And I'm sure all of these ladies on the panel can
attest to that.
I am a part of Engineers Without Borders, and we
currently have a project in Kenya.
And this project in Kenya is a water filtration
project, and what we will be traveling in May, this
May, to implement biosand filters, and these biosand
filters will help clean at a household level for the
people in the community, they'll help to clean the
river water that they use every day.
So for me as a young woman, service is very
important to me, community service.
And to be able to do engineering on a global
level for free --
And just to do
something that I love every day, it's a field
that I enjoy.
And I just want everyone to know that if you can
find something that you like for yourself and you
can find that in engineering, trust me,
you'll be successful and you'll go a long way.
Lisa Jackson: And Dr. Hernandez.
Dr. Jean Hernandez: Thank you, Lisa.
Well, first of all, Edmonds Community College
takes a lot of pride in being very innovative and
creative in how we do things.
We have a center called the WATR Aerospace
Training and Research Center, and one of the
things that's been really neat about that program is
you go for six weeks and get your first
certificate, it's a short-term certificate,
full time, and then you go another six weeks.
So when you have two certificates, aerospace
companies and Boeing are ready to hire you.
And a lot of times people think you have to have a
four-year degree to really get into the STEM fields,
and it's not necessarily true.
There's a great need for what we call technicians,
and those usually require either certificates or
two-year degrees.
But let me tell you a little bit about WATR.
One of the things they're doing is what's called
Cool Girls in Aerospace, and I'm hoping that as I
speak other high schools and community colleges,
universities, will think of some of these ideas.
But one of the things that's so neat is that
girls come and they actually get to work with
composites and make a composits tray, and
composites are, you know, when you're looking at
different materials that are lightweight but very
sturdy, and so they get to play around with different
types of things like that and they make this trinket
box, and then they take Katya, which is a kind of
software, and they design their own key chain.
So after nine hours of this Cool Girls in
Aerospace day, they have something to take home
with them, and hopefully get excited about the
materials they've been working with.
One of our students from WATR who graduated about
probably a year ago now got her first job with a
major aerospace company, and this individual has
gone so fast up the food chain, and again, this is
a great time to be working in aerospace.
She is now basically a year later making
$100,000 a year.
And part of that is because hard working,
good work ethic, and also great skills.
And this person will probably not come back for
a Bachelor's degree, but she'll probably
continue to do professional development
throughout her career.
Another area that we have that we're very proud of
is our robotics electronics program,
and also our material science program.
And those are, again, other areas where you can
work, you know, with different kinds of either,
you know, information technology or you can work
with the robotics program, you know, as you saw in
the video where you're building things that
actually do things that maybe we don't want humans
to be doing or other people that have to be,
you know, touching.
Sort of like the aerospace piece here, you know, get
a little help when you have to reach out, you
know, into space.
One of the things that we're doing is called
Expanding Your Horizons.
And I don't know if it's -- it's pretty well known
nationally, but that's one program that if you as a
girl have a chance to go to Expanding Your
Horizons, it's usually for either high school girls
or for middle school girls where they focus
on STEM speakers.
So all of your speakers are in STEM fields,
and they're women.
And I'm going to finish with just one last story.
We also have a nursing program, and for us it's a
licensed practical nursing program that's part time
and mostly online, but the idea is that
it's to be accessible.
It's to make it easy for individuals that maybe
need to work either part time or full time, can
still go to college and get their degrees
and complete them.
And we have recently had two different groups
graduate, and one of my favorite stories is of a
woman who nobody in her family had ever had a
college degree, and now she's a licensed practical
nurse, and her hope is to become a registered nurse.
And I have no doubt she's going to do it, and she's
probably going to be running, you know, the
whole, you know, ward or the whole floor before long.
Because she just has that kind of drive.
Thank you.
Lisa Jackson: Thank you, Dr. Hernandez.
Now we're about to go to questions from our
audience, so get ready.
But many of you touched on this, but I'll ask you
very quickly, just if you had one, a one or two
sentence piece of advice for not only the young
women here but remember, lots of young women who
are listening or will be listening to this broadcast.
Just think about that for a second.
I'll go first.
It's very, very short, which is you don't have to
know exactly what kind of scientist or engineer or
technician you want to be right now to make part of
who you are being a dedication to excelling
in science and math.
Math is the language of science.
There are all kinds of scientists out there,
there are all kinds of engineers out there.
I'm an engineer who does really public policy for a living.
That's what I've come to do.
It is a wonderful platform from which to build a career.
So don't feel bad if you're sitting there like,
well, I'm not sure which one of these, if any, I
want to do, just at this point dedicate yourself to
getting the absolute best grades you can in science
and math and taking those courses and getting that
extra help or forming a team, and then the
rest will come.
Dr. Cady Coleman: You might think that the women
who sit up here always knew which way to go when
presented with a fork in the road, left or right,
we just knew we were just supposed to be here.
And for me it's not that way, I need a lot of
help and support.
I love advice.
I like to understand how it was for other people.
I urge you to go to our NASA website
Women.NASA.gov, and you will see actually these
really cool interview videos of women telling
their stories of how they ended up in the jobs that
they ended up in.
I think they're really marvelous.
And also a new mentoring program that we have, it's
a pilot program this summer at NASA, we're
going to take 20 girls, they can apply -- anybody
can apply, grades 5 through 8, and we set them
up with a NASA mentor.
They don't have to be near a NASA site, it's all
virtual, it's a program that happens this summer.
And because, like, we've discovered that women,
girls, often need a guiding hand to show them
the kinds of things they can do.
Jocelyn Goldfein: I feel like the girls in the
video gave some of the really best advice.
Do it in teams, find something you're excited about.
Don't give up, keep trying if the first idea doesn't work.
Those are all really fundamental, great advice.
One more thing that I think that I've learned
from the, just the research and being in this
community of folks who are concerned about this is
that one of I think the deep problems that is
making -- that is an obstacle to girls getting
into these fields is that girls tend to
underestimate how well they're doing.
If they go look at kids in a math classroom or a
science classroom and they ask girls how are you
doing in this class, the girls will tend to
systematically underrate how well they're doing.
And if they go ask the boys, the boys will
systematically overestimate how
well they're doing.
And so when you're in that environment it's sort of
easy to look around and say, oh, my gosh, all
these guys are doing so well, I am not doing so
well, like it is easy to sort of lose heart or
psych yourself out.
And so I am here to say don't psych yourself out.
Give it a chance.
You don't have to be perfect.
But you do have to believe in yourself.
I had lunch last weekend with a wonderful woman
engineer who I would love to hire for Facebook,
been trying to steal her away from another company, and
she told me that she spent her entire computer
science degree throughout university convinced that
she was on the verge of failing out in every class.
And when she finally graduated she actually
graduated in the top 5 percent of her class.
So that's my advice to you, is believe in yourself.
And even when it's hard to believe yourself,
fake it until you make it.
Just keep going.
Even if you don't believe, just do it anyway.
Lisa Jackson: Very good. Bianca.
Bianca Bailey: What I have to say is basically
you may not know who you are right now, you may not
know what stage you're in in your life, but just
know that you know where you're going.
Know that you need to have a plan, and that plan is
-- it's okay if you get off course sometimes, but
just make sure that, you know, you might consult
with your mother or if you have a mentor, it's really
important to have a mentor that you can sit down and
talk about your plan for life.
And so don't just -- don't get discouraged if you
come, if you go off course, because you always
will end up where you're supposed to be.
And the last thing that I want to say is you have
the right to prepare for interesting work and
economic independence.
Lisa Jackson: Okay.
All right, and Dr. Hernandez.
Dr. Jean Hernandez: Well said.
So I think what I would say is nobody can take
your dreams away from you.
You have the right to achieve those dreams.
And every one of you has dreams right now, and my
hope is that you're going to keep following them,
because you have the ability to be successful.
You really do.
I really believe that, and what's going to make that
I think even more real for you is find a college or
university that has a great support system.
There are some schools that do not focus on girls
achieving or women achieving in their
programs the way that I think we should be doing,
so really do your homework, and look
for those scholarships.
People want, there are tons of STEM scholarships
out there, so don't avoid, you know, getting somebody
else to pay for your college.
Thank you.
Lisa Jackson: Thank you.
All right, great advice.
Now it's your turn.
Questions from the audience?
Raise your hand and we'll get a microphone over.
Okay, we have one here and one over here, or in the back.
Olivia Sullivan: My name is Olivia Sullivan,
I'm a student at Thomas Jefferson High School, and
I was wondering what's the most challenging part
of your occupations.
Jocelyn Goldfein: I think it's dealing with failure.
I think you have to kind of, you know, a lot of
times to build something great it's -- no one, very
few of us are lucky enough to have exactly the right
idea on the first try.
And so the nature of creating something, of,
whether it's technological or otherwise, is to keep
persisting and trying again, each when your
first idea doesn't work out.
And it's actually really hard to take risks.
This is why I think so many companies, you know,
talk about how hard it is to innovate.
It's not because they're short of smart people with
good ideas, it's that after you've tried your
first good idea and it didn't work out, and then
maybe you tried your second good idea and that
didn't work out, you kind of give up and want to do
the safe, obvious thing instead of trying risky,
you know, unknown how it's going to work out things.
And so I think realizing that failure is normal,
that actually if -- if it were clear what to do next
it would be obvious.
It wouldn't be innovation.
And so there is, it is absolutely
impossible to tell the difference between a great
innovative idea and a terrible idea.
They're going to look exactly the same before
you try them.
And so there is no way to avoid failure if
you're going to swing for the fences, so you've just
got to kind of fail as fast as you can and work
with a team of people who support each other through
it and keep going.
And know that that's an expected part of the process.
Lisa Jackson: I love that.
We're going to try to keep it to one person answering
-- I know every one of us could -- so we can get as
many of your questions in as possible.
So let's take one more from the audience, and
then I'll go to our internet universe here.
And I don't have the mic, so I can't call on you.
Princess Rockefeller: Hi, my name is Princess Rockefeller,
I'm a student at McKinley Technology High School.
And my question is for Engineers Without Borders,
do you ever get to have experience working with
Doctors Without Borders?
Bianca Bailey: Actually, Engineers
Without Borders is not affiliated with Doctors
Without Borders, but we do some of the same kind of work.
So again, just pressing the whole service attitude
as well as engineering.
A lot of women, we're very sensitive and emotional
and we like to help people out, so that's what I took
towards engineering, and I use that in order for me
to like be motivated and stay and finish
successfully and graduate.
Lisa Jackson: Here's one from our Twitter verse.
It's from @LisaKMiles.
And Dr. Hernandez, maybe you should go first with these.
What is the most important class a high school girl
should take for a STEM career?
Dr. Jean Hernandez: Well, you definitely want
to keep taking a lot of your math, chemistry,
physics, biology classes, as much as you can.
Because the reality is the stronger your high school
experience is, the more successful you're going to
be in the community college or university setting.
Because you really need to have a strong foundation.
And again, what I would emphasize about community
college is if you don't have a strong math or
science background, but you've now decided, you
know, I didn't, you know, I'm a senior now and I
didn't take as much math as I thought I should, you
could still go to a community college and get
that support and foundation and still be
very successful in your career.
Dr. Cady Coleman: You know, I'd just like
to piggyback on that.
We all know here -- I don't mean to belittle
your answer at all -- that we should take math, but
what if you don't like math?
And what if you don't, what if you don't feel
like you're good at math?
Actually, math works for me.
Physics, now physics is really nonintuitive and
very hard for me, and I don't like it.
And does that mean it's not for me?
I mean, look at my job.
It has to be there.
And math has to be there.
And there are things like physics for me that just
because it's hard for me, doesn't mean it's not for me.
It means that I have to have the courage to ask
for more explanations and say, could you just tell
me about that in a different way?
I didn't understand it.
I can understand it, but sometimes I need more or
different explanations, and that I have to
actually do every homework problem and maybe more.
So just because it's hard for you and actually even
if you plain old don't like it, math and science
are for you because we all live on the planet and we
learned about what the solutions come from.
They come from engineering.
Lisa Jackson: Absolutely. Okay, great.
I'm going to throw this one out there because I
think every one of you are pioneers.
So this is a question about pioneering.
This is from Jody in New Hampshire.
Jody says girls who live in rural areas and attend
small high schools such as those in our region of
northern New Hampshire may not feel as if they have
the same opportunities as the girls in your audience.
What kinds of encouragement can you
offer girls from small, rural high schools who
want to pursue STEM careers?
Bianca Bailey: I'll answer that one.
What I would say to her is that there is the
computer, there's the worldwide web,
there's the internet.
And because you have that tool, because technology
is moving so fast and social media is out there,
you can get anything that you need on the internet.
So if you feel like you're missing out on
opportunities, there's a lot, there's lots of
things online that you can go to, lots of websites.
Girls Incorporated is a website that you can go
on, you can find more information about what
Girls, Incorporated does about STEM, which is a
build IT program.
Facebook, I'm sure, Facebook there's a lot of
different opportunities as far as girls and women in
STEM is concerned.
So I just think that you should use all your
resources in order to be connected to
the outside world.
Dr. Jean Hernandez: So just to include National
Science Foundation has some wonderful summer programs.
So if you're in a rural area you might get to go
to Kalamazoo, Michigan, or, you know, MIT for the
summer and learn about sciences.
So kind of keep an eye on those things.
Lisa Jackson: Very good.
Dr. Cady Coleman: And I want to say I'm a big
believer in the virtual world, I'm a commuter, my
husband and I have commuted for 20 years
between Massachusetts and Texas, and so we often
think about, you know, I mean, video isn't
everything, but we read stories over the phone,
over Skype, you know, try to think about what we can share.
And this NASA program that I talked about, NASA
Girls, is virtual mentoring.
You can be anywhere, I guess we say in the
country, but actually I don't know why it's
limited to the country.
You know, you could be anywhere you could get to
a computer and you could be part of this five-week
mentoring program.
Lisa Jackson: Wow, that's cool.
All right, questions.
Then we're coming to the back here. Yes.
Laura Jones: My name's Laura Jones, I run a girls
program called Girls Excelling in Math and Science.
What do you say to girls or how can you help all of
us who work with young girls, say to them who
say, well, I'm afraid about getting into a
highly-disciplined field like math or science
because I also want to have a life.
Bianca Bailey: I'll answer that
one, since I'm currently a college student.
I still have a life, and in fact, I don't think of
myself as a typical engineer because I ran for
Miss College of Engineering Architecture
and Computer Science, and I was a part of the
Homecoming Court for about a year.
So you can still have a life and still be in STEM.
I was also in the marching band.
I play clarinet and trumpet as well.
So I was doing that as well.
So you can still be a pretty lady, a lady that
is involved socially.
I'm also a member of a sorority, so there are a
lot of different things that women in STEM can do
to, for you to be able to balance out your academic
and your social life.
And the key is balancing social and academic.
And once you've got that key you'll be successful.
You'll be good.
Lisa Jackson: Wow. You're in a lot.
She has a lot of life, I think.
Congratulations, Bianca.
Okay, we'll take one more from the audience.
Crystal Romine: Hello.
My name is Crystal Romine, (phonetic) I'm a graduate
student, doctoral student at the University of
Maryland studying Environmental Science, and
I've personally -- I can personally say that I
wouldn't be in that role if it wasn't for mentors.
Can you all speak a little bit on the importance of
these young girls developing relationships
with women who are already in STEM fields and the
importance of women in the STEM fields reaching back
and maintaining relationships with young women.
Lisa Jackson: And that's such an important
topic, everyone should feel free to take a couple
minutes on that.
So why don't we go across our panel and start
with Dr. Coleman.
Dr. Cady Coleman: Well, I mentioned the mentoring
program that's a pilot this summer.
I mean, that's why NASA is doing this, is that we're
seeing that with girls they often need someone to
look them in the eyes, whether it's over the
internet or not, and say, you know, you can do this.
Let's talk about what you can do.
I know it's actually important for me.
You know, I am somebody that just deals better
with a little advice, a little help, a little sharing.
We have a lot of really neat women at NASA.
When I first applied to -- was thinking about being
and applying to be an astronaut, Dr. Kathy
Sullivan who's now a Deputy at NOAA and a
former astronaut, she took, you know, half an
hour to talk to me at a science fair and it meant
the world to me.
It made me feel like I was worth this astronaut
talking to me for half an hour about how I could apply.
And I actually need that kind of confidence
building, that kind of reinforcement, and so I
urge the girls that are here to realize that
wanting to reach out, even if it seems like the
stereotypical guys don't seem to need that, you
know, you reach out, you grab what you need because
you are going somewhere.
And for the folks that are adults in the room,
realize that it is our job to look around for the
people that don't know how to ask, and look at them
and try to figure out what they need and what you can
do for them so they can be part of the future.
Jocelyn Goldfein: I think it's hugely
important that the women who are in these fields
really model for girls that these are jobs and
careers for women, too.
And, you know, I think it's so difficult when,
you know, I read my children storybooks and
all the nurses are women and all the doctors are men.
And what does that tell her when she's a little
girl and grows up with that kind of, you know,
vision, that these fields are not for her.
And, you know, my own field, computer science,
is actually one of the worst for gender balance,
so STEM as a whole is maybe 30, 40 percent female.
Computer science graduates are actually between 15
and 20 percent female.
And so when a girl gets to college and thinks, well,
maybe -- I don't know for sure, I didn't know for sure.
But I'll try it.
I'll take that first, you know, computer science class.
And she walks in that room and most of the people are
men, are not women.
It is easy to have this kind of instinctive
reaction of, oh, my goodness, I don't belong here.
Have you ever walked into the wrong bathroom by accident?
Right? Like, oops, I don't belong here.
That can be your feeling.
When you walk into a room where absolutely no one
looks like you or very few people look like you.
And so I think that one of the most important values
of role models is just so you can believe that this
is something that people like you can do.
And when I go talk to the women who are in my field,
what I find is very often there's a family member,
can be the mom or the dad or an aunt or an uncle or
cousin, there's someone who went before them
in the field.
So even if they're not looking around the
classroom and seeing folks like them, they know of
someone in that field that preceded them.
And so I think what we've got to do as the women in
this field, what all of us are doing here today is
really standing up and putting ourselves out
there so that you know there are people like
you doing this.
And that you can do this, too.
Bianca Bailey: So what I call my cabinet of
mentors is my me cabinet.
And so basically in my me cabinet there are
different types of people in my me cabinet that
serve different purposes in my life.
So I might have a mentor that helps me
academically, so that may be one of my professors at
school, and there may be someone who helps me
personally with just my financial decisions or,
you know, deciding, well, what internship am I going
to do this summer?
What's better than this option?
So I really encourage everyone, even if you're
older, I mean, mentors are great for everything, and
having a mentor has really helped me in my life
because I was raised by my father, so having a female
mentor in my life has really helped with just
developing me into a young lady.
And I would also encourage you to get a male mentor
because the world is mixed with males and females.
So always having a male perspective
gives you a true and honest perspective as well
of the world.
So a balance.
Dr. Jean Hernandez: Thank you.
I'm going to do a little shout-out for three
of our faculty.
Mary O'Brien teaches chemistry, Rachel Wade
teaches physics, and Kay Latimer teaches
information technology.
Every one of those women I see them all over campus
with students around them.
I hear students at meetings, you know, give
them accolades.
You have to connect with faculty.
And that to me is a very powerful mentor for you
because not only do they know the field, they know
the pathways.
So if you're thinking, well, I don't really like
math, I'm not really sure I want to go quite that
math route, they can help you figure out which of
those science fields are going to be most
complementary for you, and they also will help give
you encouragement.
So I think that's a really important part of mentors.
The other part at the other end when you
graduate, there's such a need for that informal
networking, mentors will probably know people in
the field and help you get jobs.
Lisa Jackson: Okay. And we have time for one more question, so I'm
going to take it, I guess, from one of
our web questions.
And I'm trying to pick one that's sort of -- there
was one that was kind of fun, I'll just ask it, but
don't answer it, which is what role does TV play in
the stereotypes about women.
Maybe we can all think on that a little bit.
But, you know, interestingly enough, we
heard that not long ago that CSI has done more for
reengaging a lot of young people in science and math.
So I'm always glad when there are females on CSI
who are doing some of the scientific inquiry along
with the males.
But I guess we'll end with this one, which is does
the panel have any advice for graduating students.
And I'm going to go even before graduation.
I think many of you touched on this, who are
looking for positions in these fields.
So obviously, at the end of the day, believe us,
the parents in the room want you to get a job.
That's important to us.
But how about when you start thinking
about the career end?
And Bianca, I'll start with you, but I'd ask
everybody to sort of close out on this topic, which
is you should always be thinking a little bit
about career planning.
And how about some advice?
Bianca Bailey: Some advice on career planning.
So me, I'm a person, I like to have my hands in everything.
I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket.
So just deciding on what specific career I wanted
to do was a little tough, but like I said, I had
mentors that helped me make really good decisions.
In addition to that, a lot of times when you're
graduating from high school and even from
college, people always want to press you to work
in corporate America or work, you know, somewhere
else instead of another option, which is going
back to school.
And so for me, I want to be an expert in my field,
so I decided to, you know, sort of push the, you
know, corporate 9 to 5 thing aside for a while,
and then I decided to get a Masters in Environmental Engineering.
So I think gaining as much knowledge as you can is
always great, but also make sure that you're able
to use that knowledge after you're done gaining it.
Lisa Jackson: Cool. Jocelyn.
Jocelyn Goldfein: One thing Facebook really
looks for in the college students that we hire --
and by the way, about 30 to 40 percent of the
engineers we hire every year, we hire straight
out of college.
So those are, absolutely you are qualified with a
computer science degree after college to go work
for any of the great software companies in this country.
One thing we always look for is good summer
internship experience.
So don't wait until your senior year to start
thinking about this.
Use those summer internships both because
they'll help you get jobs later on, but actually
also because they'll help you figure out what you
might want to do, what you might want to be.
If you try a summer internship with an
enterprise software company or consumer
software company or -- you will get some sense of
what you're passionate about.
And your own passion for the field is a lot of what
qualifies you, is a lot about what gets a company
excited about you and wanting to hire you.
Another thing that we have the luxury of in the
software world is really side projects.
So even if you are, you know, closing in on senior
year and maybe haven't had all the internship
experience that you want, maybe it took you a while
to figure out what you wanted to do, I love
anything that shows that you have care for and
passion for the subject.
So did you go write your own i-Phone app?
Did you go make your own Facebook application?
Did you go contribute to an open source project?
If you are not in computer science but one of the
other STEM fields, did you do these projects on the
side that were not just dictated to you by the
classroom or the academic environment, but that
showed your own personal passion for this sphere?
And those kind of things really make you stand out.
Lisa Jackson: Dr. Coleman?
Dr. Cady Coleman: So, I'll address the nuts and
bolts of, you know, we talked about goals to
have, and to do anything of the things that we've
been talking about here, you're going to have to apply.
First of all, no one's going to just pick you,
you know, I mean, no nobody called me, I applied.
And for internships, you're going to have to
apply, you're going to have to write down on a
piece of paper or on a computer why somebody
reading that, reading it fast and skimming, is
going to want to know more about you.
And so we talked about science, technology,
engineering, and math, writing and communicating
are a big part of what you need to think about
because you need to make those opportunities for
yourself and it's just part of being in the field.
And so think a lot about these applications.
Think about how to represent what you do
without, you don't want to be like a big braggart,
but if you don't tell people about who you are,
they won't know and they can't pick you.
And let's say you're constrained at home and
you are taking care of your little brother and sister.
Well, why don't you write that up as how many hours
a week, 20 hours a week child care and tutoring.
You know, and then explain.
You never want to misrepresent things, but
realize that the things that you do are important
to advertise to really interesting places like
NASA, Facebook, community colleges, the programs
that Bianca's talking about.
So communication.
You've got to do it.
Lisa Jackson: Thanks, Dr. Coleman.
Dr. Cady Coleman: Yes.
Dr. Jean Hernandez: And when you're baby-sitting,
start doing science projects with them.
So I have a homework assignment for
you, because this is my piece of advice.
Your family is probably a wealth of connections you
didn't even think about.
So in the next week, I want each of you to ask at
least two or three relatives if they know
somebody you could call and ask them about their
job or somebody you could call and ask if you could
go shadow them in their job.
How many of you are willing to do that
homework assignment?
Okay, almost everybody.
A couple of shy ones.
But I hope you'll all do that. Thank you.
Lisa Jackson: Very nice.
Well, and I'll just add two things.
One, they both were in the answers that we heard,
which are first, anything you do that you do as part
of a team, I see we have a lot of Scouts here, I bet
a lot of you are part of different activities, you
heard Dr. Coleman, I heard it from Jocelyn, Bianca,
and Dr. Hernandez all say you work in teams.
You know, these courses are designed to be really
hard, and if your idea is that you're going to sit
in a room and figure it out by yourself because
you're really smart, otherwise you probably
wouldn't be in science and math, you're smart, you're
not going to make it, no matter how smart you are.
And you're going to feel as though everyone else is
doing well and maybe you're not doing so well.
So anything you do right now to get used to being
in teams and working together, sometimes
leading, leadership is good, sometimes not being
the leader, but learning how to contribute and work
in that dynamic is going to be really helpful.
And that brings me to my other point.
Many of you are lucky.
Your mentors, your teachers all understand
how important it is to find these opportunities for you.
But there are lots of girls out there who
aren't as fortunate.
So when you're out on social media or other
places, make sure and tell other girls about
opportunities that might be out there for them
because not everybody is as fortunate as you are or
as the folks who are clued in because they have great
schools or great teachers at those schools to be leaders.
So please join me, speaking of leaders, in
thanking our amazing panel, and let's do it.
Dr. Cady Coleman, Jocelyn Goldfein,
Bianca Bailey, and Dr. Jean Hernandez.
Thank you all very much for joining us.
Stay excited, and for more information please go on
the White House website, WhiteHouse.gov, and click
on the button for White House Council on Women and Girls.
There's lots of things going on.
Of course we're all about science and math, but
there's lots of things going on as well.
Thanks very much.