It’s no secret that STEM has a gender gap. While female high school and college students do as well as, or better than, their male counterparts in math and science, just 6.7% of women graduate from college with a STEM-related degree, compared with 17% of men. To address this, Glamour invited three leaders to talk about their work, advocacy, and how we can get young women everywhere interested in STEM—and to stay in the field.
Model and Aerie REAL global role model Iskra Lawrence kicked off the panel by telling the audience, "Today Glamour has brought three [leaders in STEM] together to tell you how they are changing and elevating STEM, not just in their own careers but for all women. We’re tracking the same kind of brilliant woman at three different points in her life: high school, college, and making her mark big time in the workforce."
Lawrence then welcomed high school senior and student at New Lab&aposs HE3AT program Yana Loginskaya, as well as 2019 Glamour College Woman of the Year and founder of GlioVision Kavya Kopparapu, and software engineer and founder of the Instagram account @codergirl_ Laura Medalia to the stage.
Kopparapu started by speaking to what she and her nonprofit are doing to make a difference in the diagnoses of cancer. She began by sharing the impetus for her work, which was an article about Senator John McCain, who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor. She explained, "After patients are diagnosed…they have six months left to live. And that was shocking to me." It led her to question: "Why haven&apost we gotten better at diagnosing and treating this?"
And so she created GlioVision, an artificial-intelligence-based diagnostic platform that recommends the best treatment for specific types of cancer. All of her work now surrounds "making a diagnosis and cancer treatment more accessible, so everyone can use it and everyone can get treated faster."
Similar to Kopparapu, Loginskaya is working on something that affects all of us: the rapidly changing environment. But her work had an unexpected start: her nephew. The high schooler noticed that "all of his [plastic] toys were all over the beach," which made her wonder just how many other kids were leaving their own toys-turned-litter on beaches all over the world. She&aposs now focused on how to make kids&apos toys out of wood, a more sustainable option—and one that&aposs just as fun.
Finally, Medalia shared the story of when she realized something was off about her first job out of college in the tech industry. As she recalled it, "We had this weekly meeting where I get to introduce myself, and I got in front of that engineering organization and looked around. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I am the second woman. And there&aposs like 80 people here. Crazy. And so thus began my career."
Medalia took to Instagram as @codergirl_ to "create a voice for technologists" and help other young women "learn about the industry and see how amazing it is, how fulfilling it is."
So what&aposs next for these women? Inspiring even more change. Medalia implored the audience to recognize that it&aposs important to not only share triumphs but also "how she fails at it." She&aposs also looking to upend the stereotype that you have to look a certain way to be a software engineer as a means of diversifying the industry.
Loginskaya sees an opportunity to change things at the school level—teaching classes herself. She&aposs focusing on building talent in emerging technologies and bringing her program to various Title 1 schools in various districts to teach computer science. She&aposs also making headway by talking with industry leaders about why tech education is important. Next steps? Taking it globally and encouraging international students to participate.
Find out more about Glamour&aposs 2019 Women of the Year here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour