Solutions to STEM 'Opportunity Gap' Highlighted at Olin + BBJ Virtual Event
March 31, 2022
"Early exposure is key to get more women and people of color in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM field," writes the Boston Business Journal (BBJ) in a new article, summing up panelist comments after Wednesday's virtual discussion presented by Olin College: STEM: The Opportunity Gap.
Though, BBJ's all women panel, including Olin College President Gilda A. Barabino, each added that employers and policymakers must also do their part to bridge the gap.
President Barabino started by remembering the isolation and marginalization challenges she encountered at the start of her career before eventually becoming the first African-American woman to commence a tenure track position in chemical engineering in the country. She shared that she started studying chemistry to challenge her high school teacher who "ignored the women in the class," and to prove him wrong.
She continued by saying "what I've experienced and would like others to understand is the importance of early exposure, the importance of having access to opportunities and sharing our stories."
"Part of why I'm sharing my own story is that I would like others to be inspired by it, but I also think it's important for us to share the stories of others."
Aisha Francis, President and CEO of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and an event panelist, succinctly laid out the importance of exposure, saying the goal should be to "open the floodgates." "You never know who could then be exposed and where that spark gets lit."
"What I've experienced and would like others to understand is the importance of early exposure, the importance of having access to opportunities..."
"The early exposure and getting people involved in innovation, and seeing others like them in the innovative space, really does make a difference."
Gilda A. Barabino, Ph.D.
"The early exposure and getting people involved in innovation, and seeing others like them in the innovative space, really does make a difference" said President Barabino.
Together with exposure, the next generation of young people need to see how STEM skills can impact the world, said panelist Emily Reichert, CEO of climatech startup incubator Greentown Labs.
"You have the tools. What do you do with the tools? That's the part where I think industry needs to play a role," Reichert told the audience.
Nicole Obi, President and CEO of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts said there's great opportunity in doing this work, in closing these [opportunity] gaps, and offered that policy makers have to do their part by providing infrastructure support to families via tuition assistance or child care and elder care resources.
Read the BBJ's article here.
Watch STEM: The Opportunity Gap presented by Olin College
The event panelists include:
Gilda Barabino, Ph.D | President, Olin College of Engineering
Aisha Francis, Ph.D. | President and CEO, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
Nicole Obi | President & CEO, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts
Emily Reichert, Ph. D. | CEO, Greentown Labs
Moderator: Carolyn Jones | Market President & Publisher, Boston Business Journal