Facilitating Potential: Lessons Learned from Engaging Girls in STEM

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 8:23 PM PDT

Are you a mentor or manager? Do you help others reach their potential? Are you challenged to reach underserved audiences? Join us on May 14 when, the Seattle University Alumni Association hosts its last SU Advantage | Networking Night of the school year entitled “Facilitating Potential: Lessons Learned from Engaging Women in STEM” featuring Seattle University’s Director of General Sciences, Dr. Jennifer Sorensen

Dr. Sorensen’s presentation will share her learnings from engaging girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), an underrepresented populations in the arena of science. Her presentation will share four relevant strategies for any professional trying to engage a target audience that is notoriously difficult to reach or anyone interested in supporting the success of colleagues, clients and community members.

Dr. Sorensen discovered her love of science at an early age. “I have strong memories of sticking toothpicks in a potato and placing it in water to make it grow and building a crystal radio for the science fair. I’d conduct my own experiments in the backyard, like using water and flour to create clay and watching mold grow on it.”

It was a teacher who encouraged her to study chemistry in college. In graduate school she planned to enter the pharmaceutical industry, but during her time as a teacher’s assistant she discovered her passion for teaching.

As a woman in STEM, Dr. Sorensen is passionate about engaging the next generation of women scientists. When asked why it’s important to give girls the opportunity to explore the sciences, she replied, “It’s important to get the best minds involved, whoever they may be. You need diverse perspectives in the room. Science is a collaborative endeavor that benefits from those who approach problems in new and different ways.”

In her efforts to engage girls and women in STEM, Dr. Sorensen has worked with the community, forming partnerships with the Girl Scouts and helping to organize the annual event Seattle Expanding Your Horizons (SEYH), a hands-on conference that encourages girls to explore the worlds of math, science and engineering.

To Dr. Sorensen, the most meaningful part of her community outreach is seeing the empowerment of women and girls as they start understanding and enjoying science. “At the end of the Expanding Your Horizons day, after the girls have met with women biologists, botanists, engineers, veterinarians and others, they are buzzing with excitement and I feed off of their energy… they get involved and they start having fun and realize ‘I can do this!’”

Through these and other experiences, Dr. Sorensen has identified four key strategies for facilitating potential in those around her. You can learn more about these strategies and Dr. Sorensen’s work engaging women in science at the Sorrento Hotel on May 14th. Register now and join us for an evening of networking and thought-provoking conversations.