(calm electronic music)
- I'm Priyanka, I'm a second year PhD student
at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
My focus is on air pollution.
When I did my undergrad in India
I don't think even at that point
that I knew a lot of women scientists or women in STEM.
My role model was really my grandfather,
who was the only other engineer that I knew.
- So my name's Newsha Ghaeli.
I am currently the president
and co-founder of Biobot Analytics.
So when I started engineering and architecture school
the people that I admired were women.
I think one example
that everyone at MIT knows is Neri Oxman.
I was probably just as impressed by obviously her work,
but I could also see something relatable
when I looked at her was she's a woman, she's like me,
and maybe one day I can be like that.
- My name is Jessica Snyder and I work
at NASA Ames Research Center and I'm a staff scientist.
So I think a part of who I am is I'm my mother's daughter,
and she introduced me to people like Jane Goodall
as a role model, Sylvia Earle who explores in the oceans,
and Sally Ride or astronauts like that.
Hugely technically competent,
inspirational in what they've done.
- My name is Francesca Dominici.
I am a professor of biostatistics,
data science, and population health
at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
and a co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.
I have a lot of fantastic colleagues that are female.
They are now my peer, and of course
I am absolutely passionate about making sure
that the junior have role models,
but no, I never had the role model.
- I think it's important to have female role models.
I think also extremely important is to have peers
like other women and men you respect
that you enjoy talking to.
There's people here at Ames that talk about decades ago
and they'd be the only woman in a meeting.
And now it's almost 50-50.
And so being able to have that conversation
and celebrate how things have shifted
gives me an appreciation of history.
I think it's really important to extend mentorship
to other women, and so I volunteered
with the Science Club for Girls.
And that's a group that works with roughly third grade
aged girls to about eighth grade.
And every week you go and you do science and experiments.
- When as a female in STEM when you are young
and we are trying to find your career path
I think that a lot of support from of course female,
but also male in advancing your career,
I think what's becoming a real problem
is when you're becoming in a leadership position as well,
and I think that's where you get the glass ceiling.
As you're raising and you're trying
to either at the same level or the higher level
then I think there is a pushback.
I think it's still very present in STEM.
- Within the education system we see a lot more parity
than you do in industry, and so when you're in
a STEM-related field in industry
that gender discrepancy is amplified
a lot more than academia and part of is
probably a lack of role models.
I started admiring people like Sheryl Sandberg,
but she was like one of three people
that I could really identify and say, she's amazing
and one day I wanna be like her.
That probably contributes a lot to why women
don't start companies within the STEM field.
My co-founder and I are both women.
We are getting inundated with applications
from phenomenal women.
- I see in a certain way that we are stuck.
To me there are two concrete step.
One is to equip the young girl to
have more confidence in themself
but at the same time I also think
we need to hold the leadership in the labs
and the university accountable and recognize their effort
about increasing diversity in their lab,
which is not only gender diversity by the way.
It's a diversity across the whole spectrum.
I think we are still only looking at one metric
which is impact factor or research publication,
and that is a one-dimensional lens.
And I think as long as we keep the one-dimensional lens
and we don't reward the leadership
that make that as a real issue
I think we will continue to be stuck.
- Now that I'm teaching this semester
I want to be cognizant of the gender gaps,
of the racial biases, et cetera on this campus
and try to make sure that I create an environment
that is welcoming to everybody.