This past Saturday, I attended the annual Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Conference on the UW campus. This was my first time at the conference, and overall it was a very inspiring experience! The program featured keynote presentations from Dona Sarkar, a Principal Systems Engineer at Microsoft, and Randi Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and former Director of Market Development for Facebook. These women are exceptional role models for women starting out in the tech industry. The day also included a variety of workshops and panel discussions on topics relevant to women scientists and engineers at every stage of their education and career. Event sponsors, including Intel, Boeing, and Microsoft, hosted a mini-career fair in the morning as well.
The first thing I would like to stress about the conference is how the atmosphere was so positive and supportive. It was not difficult at all to find and start conversations with women professionals in science or engineering that were eager to give career advice. Everyone I talked to was also willing to continue the discussion at another time, and many business cards were exchanged. I’ve never been to an event where people were more proactive about talking to new people. I believe that many of the post-collegiate attendees come to this conference with the goal of providing guidance and advice to science and engineering students. Additionally, the organizing staff, mostly made up of WiSE students from UW, exuded a positive attitude without fail for the entire day, which definitely caught on with the attendees.
Of the day’s events, Dona Sarkar’s and Randi Zuckerberg’s keynote presentations were particularly inspiring to me. Both women talked about their paths to their remarkable career achievements in a personal and entertaining way that made them both very relatable. I came away from both talks feeling that these women were not so unlike myself, and that I can achieve great things in my career even if they may seem unattainable to me right now. I also was heartened to learn of Dona Sarkar’s personal hobbies. She accomplished the impressive feats of both becoming a published novelist and starting a fashion line without sacrificing her dedication to her work.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the UW WiSE conference. I made great connections and left feeling much more confident in my career prospects as I begin my search for a job. I highly recommend this event to all science and engineering students, from undergraduate to graduate, as well professionals in these fields and high school students interested in a career in science or engineering.
Jessica Wittman, WCS-UW Treasurer