Over 500 East Bay girls gather for Richmond STEM summit

518 East Bay girls gather for Richmond STEM summit
Over 500 high school girls from Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties gathered for a STEM summit with women professionals at Richmond Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Photos by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

Girl power was on full display in Richmond today. Over 500 young women from East Bay high schools gathered at a daylong summit at Richmond Memorial Auditorium to learn about STEM careers from women professionals representing a wide variety of companies.

The Junior Achievement of Northern California’s fourth-annual S.H.E. Leads STEM Summit drew girls from 10th-12th grades from schools in Alameda, Solano and Contra Cost counties, including from Richmond, Kennedy and Pinole Valley high schools.

A day’s worth of panels, workshops and a speed-mentoring sessions featured participation from over 100 professionals from STEM-field companies, including Kaiser Permentente, Chevron Richmond, Bank of America, Ernst & Young, and many more. The event aimed to both inspire and prep students to join the diverse Bay Area tech workforce and consider careers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The summit kicked off with opening remarks from keynote speaker Shakeya McDow of Kaiser Permanente, followed by a panel discussion that included speakers Shirley Stacy of Align Technology, Lacey Sutherland of Valero, Sabina Zafar of GE Digital and Karen Warren and Dr. Maliika Chambers of Robert Half.

Following the panel discussion, students attended 40-minute workshops led by professionals on topics including mental health, women’s careers, health and bodies, emerging technology, financial literacy, and women and engineering. After lunch, speed mentoring sessions had the students engaging with professionals.

Stacey Martin-Bonaduce, regional director of JA of Northern California, said S.H.E. Leads stands for “strengthen her education.”

“We really want to empower our young women to know that they can find various careers in STEM; that if you want to enter the engineering field, it doesn’t mean that you have to be an engineer or work for a large computer company,” Martin-Bonaduce said. “You can work for so many hundreds of companies…we really want to show them the broad careers that are available in STEM.”

Martin-Bonaduce said it is impactful for young girls to see women working in high positions at significant companies. These women can relate to being 16 years old and not knowing exactly what they want to do in their career.

“We want to show them that when you’re 16, you may not know exactly what you want to do, and that’s absolutely fine,” she said. “You can change your path anytime in your life. We really want to inspire our girls.”

For more info about JA of Northern California or its work, click here or call 925.465.1068.