This post is sponsored by Corning® Gorilla® Glass
Over the past few years there has been a groundswell of activity when it comes to girls and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) due in part to President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign that launched in 2009.
“One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.”
— President Barack Obama, February 2013
Growing a generation of girls who are engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math is important but how do you properly encourage girls and sustain their interest in order to increase the number of women in the field?
As a mom of a 12 year old daughter in middle school, I wonder if Emily’s love of math, science, and coding will continue. She’s at a critical age where if her interest in these STEM subjects will disappear during the middle school years if they’re not nurtured through engaging lessons, extracurricular activities, and parental encouragement. I constantly wonder if what we’re doing is enough and if her current interests will lead to a STEM career.
I recently interviewed Judy, a Senior Development Engineer for Corning Specialty Materials, to learn more about her almost 30 year career and her profession where her job includes working as both a scientist and engineer.
What were your favorite things to do as a child?
Like many kids, Judy’s favorite things to do as a child included building things. She loved cardboard boxes. Judy admits they didn’t have a lot of resources and boxes were available but they could also become so many things that were only limited by her imagination.
Image courtesy of Kim Love @Lovelihood on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/7raX3w
She remembers building forts, playing outside with neighborhood kids, and her father being critical to developing her initial curiosity about science.
Was there a particular thing, event, or person that fostered your interest in science when you were growing up?
Judy’s father worked as a mechanic and was interested in science so that led to many conversations around the dinner table about what he was working on where she learned the details of his job.
She believes that one of the best things that parents can do for their daughters who are interested in pursuing scientific research and other STEM careers is to talk. She encourages parents to keep options open, be persistent and, keep publications around that differ from what kids might be using in the classroom. Magazines like Popular Science serve as relevant resources to foster growing interests and can be conversation starters for engaging discussions at home.
In addition to conversations at home, Judy had a female science teacher in 8th grade. She was inspired by her excitement for experiments.
Through her chemistry book she was amazed to learn you could take sodium and chlorine (which is poisonous!) and put them together to make salt, which is edible!
Why did you decide to pursue science as a career?
Despite a curiosity about science developed at an early age, Judy went to nursing school and worked as an OR nurse. During her career as a nurse, she attended a women in technology presentation at the local college and learned of careers she had been interested in earlier and decided to go back to school for mechanical technology. She admitted to dropping physics in high school but later wished she hadn’t because of the importance of it and calculus to her college level courses.
Judy continued her education and received her engineering degree in Ceramic Engineering/Material Science that she said she “pursued that because I liked learning how things work and like making new things.” Besides taking lots of science courses in college, being able to write and communicate is valued in her current position at Corning.
When you were looking for jobs, what was appealing about Corning?
Throughout her career, Judy has worked in 5 areas including Ceramic (Environmental) Development, Corporate Recruiting, Optical Fiber, and Display Development. A typical day in her current position in the Specialty Materials divisions at Corning’s Sullivan Park Research & Development Campus includes planning, collaborating, leading efforts to qualify product, testing materials, compiling and analyzing and communicating results.
She was first attracted to Corning because of the numerous options and the ability to work in one area or another. “You are provided opportunities to follow new interests as they grow – or delve into one area,” Judy says about her time at Corning.
What do you love most about the innovative work that Corning does?
Judy finds the most rewarding part of her job being able to work with others as part of a team or project and the caliber of the individuals she works with. She loves the innovative work that Corning does because it is collaborative.
She finds there is a lot of materials science information and much to build on with thanks to Corning’s history. “People are here because they enjoy what they are doing.” She enjoys making the world a better place, being persistent, and always learning something new – when something works, and especially when it doesn’t.”
How has technology changed your job?
According to Judy, “data analysis is easier to expedite now with technology even though it is hectic because of the expectation that things are done quicker.”
She views Corning’s innovations with Corning® Gorilla® Glass impacting the ways today’s kids learn because the current generation can receive immediate feedback and have a mass of information available. Despite the convenience of technology, Judy also advises families “to disconnect and not to be on 24/7.”
What advice do you have for parents of girls who are interested in pursuing scientific research?
Judy wants today’s generations of girls to know that a career in science “can be fun and you can make a difference.” She encourages parents to do things together like mini-experiments that are available online, attend science centers/fairs, and continue the conversation about STEM related topics around the dinner table because “you never know where you will end up.”
Last Week to Enter Women Who Innovate Tough to Win a Mother Daughter Field Trip to Meet Corning’s Scientists!
To inspire your daughter to learn more about STEM subjects, one parent-daughter pair will get the rare opportunity to accompany me on an exclusive visit to Corning’s facilities and meet some of the female scientists like Judy who are innovating there today.
This summer we’ll go behind the scenes to talk with scientists whose research has contributed to innovations in cover glass that we use on our devices today and spend time at Corning Museum of Glass learning about the history of glass, watching glass being blown, and maybe even making some glass products of our own for an inspiring learning opportunity!
Since Corning is leading innovations in cover glass technology thanks to products like Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4, we want to celebrate the tough challenges that girls are able to face thanks to technology by giving away a mother-daughter pair trip to visit Corning with me and Emily this summer. The winning pair will also receive a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to continue learning through Gorilla Glass.
In order to enter, tweet your answer to this question, tagging @CorningGorilla, and using the hashtag #LearningThroughGorillaGlass:
Although this post is sponsored as part of my work with Corning, all opinions are my own and based on personal experience. For official contest rules, visit: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 Women Who Innovate Tough Twitter Contest Official Rules