28th April 2023

“Women in STEM” seminar organized by the Institute of Smart Systems and Artificial Intelligence, the Institute of International Education, and the TechWomen program of the US Department of State

Nazarbayev University (NU) recently hosted a “Women in STEM” seminar, organized by the Institute of Smart Systems and Artificial Intelligence (ISSAI NU), the Institute of International Education (IIE), and the TechWomen program of the US Department of State. The event was aimed at inspiring and supporting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The seminar was opened by a welcome speech from NU Provost Adesida Ilesanmi, NU Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Loretta O’Donnell, ISSAI Founding Director Prof. Huseyin Atakan Varol, and moderated by ISSAI Data Scientist Aknur Karabay. 

The event featured female professionals and mentors from top Silicon Valley companies, including Marvell Technology Inc, Amazon AWS, Adruino, Salesforce, and more. The speakers shared their expertise and knowledge in the field of STEM, organized networking, and discussed issues associated with women in tech. Alexa Barnes, Bioinformatics Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific and Debbie Whaley, Strategic Pursuit Leader at Jacobs stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  “As women in STEM, it’s not only our responsibility to educate others about the biases that exist in the field but also to continue to speak up about the issues that women face. We must fight tirelessly to break down the stereotypes that hold us back, and inspire future generations of women to pursue their passions without fear or hesitation”, they said. 

Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries, Data & Analytics Manager, emphasized the importance of embracing challenges and learning from failures to achieve success. “Don’t be afraid to push yourself and show the world what you’re truly capable of. Don’t hold back, be bold, take risks, and take credit for your work. So, I encourage you to take on challenges with confidence and show the world your full potential”, she said. 

Speakers also talked about the importance of soft skills for career success, focusing not only on honing technical abilities, but also on developing strong communication, leadership, and collaboration skills. As Ms Barnes noted, “We believe that success in STEM should be a balance of 50% hard skills and 50% soft skills, and we encourage all women in the field to invest in both areas equally”. 

Jayme Farrell Ranker, Product Manager and ex-Twitter employee, provided tips on how to prepare for interviews and how to showcase one’s strengths and skills. For instance, she emphasized the importance of writing down interview responses and rehearsing them audibly since it compels a person to articulate his/her thoughts when explaining something.  

The “Women in STEM” seminar provided a valuable opportunity for women in STEM to learn from experienced professionals, network with peers, and gain insights into the industry. The seminar served as a reminder that women have a valuable contribution to make in the industry and that with the right support and resources, they can succeed and thrive in their careers. As one of the attendees noted, “It’s inspiring to see so many successful women in STEM who are willing to share their experiences and help others succeed. This seminar gives us the tools and confidence to overcome the challenges we may face and pursue our careers in STEM with passion and determination.”

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