Career Speaker Series to host Women in STEM Panel

Brennen Ho, Senior Staff Writer

As part of the annual Career Speaker Series, Palo Alto High School students will have an opportunity to engage with women in STEM fields during the Women in STEM panel 4 p.m. Tuesday. According to panelist Darcy Huston, the goal of the event is about educating women on the possibilities waiting for them in the STEM field. “What I want them to see is [that] women can succeed in technical roles,” Huston said. “I want to be able to give back to young women and say [that] this is an excellent field [and] there’s so many opportunities.” Graphic: Kabir Advani.
In an attempt to demonstrate different aspects of a STEM career to women, Palo Alto High School’s annual Career Speaker Series will be hosting a Women in STEM Panel at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

In conjunction with Paly Robotics, Palo Alto Unified School District Career Technical Education pathways have organized a five-person panel with three student panelists and two industry professionals. Greetha Arun, the moderator for the upcoming panel and co-president of the Career Technology Education advisory board, described the goal of the event.

“[The] Women in STEM panel’s objective is to show a complete trajectory, which includes the professional aspects [of] industry, as well as the university aspects of what a woman entering the engineering fields can expect,” Arun said. “Typically, what happens is students see different pieces of the puzzles at different times, but rarely do they get an opportunity to see what the complete trajectory looks like.”

Freshman Risha Suvarna, a Paly Robotics member who helped organize the panel, said she hopes the panel will help girls aspire for a career in STEM.

“I believe that diversity of gender in STEM fields leads to a diversified range of ideas and views, which is critical for further advancements in science and technology,” Suvarna stated in a message to The Paly Voice. “I have also been reading about recent advances in various fields such as genetic engineering, AI, and of course, the vaccines for COVID, and it is important for people to see how women have contributed to this.”

Arun echoed Suvarna’s sentiments, adding that she wants to break the stereotypes of the engineering field.

“When people think about engineering or computer science, especially girls, they think it is very boring or nerdy or it’s very introverted,” Arun said. “The motivation [for organizing the panel] is to debunk this myth that engineering is all about being super specialized or super good in math, and to show different flavors, where different kinds of mindsets are essential in the field of engineering.”

Freshman Susanna Aufrichtig said that the STEM panel isn’t just about engineering, and emphasized that a variety of perspectives from the STEM field will be present.

“Many of our panelists work at the intersection of business and technology,” Aufrichtig said. “In addition to engineering, we have experts in computer science and information technology.”

Panelist Darcy Huston, a senior technical sales manager for Synopsys, stressed that for her, the panel is about showcasing what is possible for women.

“The panel is meant to talk about all the different areas that people in technical fields can go, so girls don’t have just one idea of [what] an engineer is,” Huston said. “What I want them to see is [that] women can succeed in technical roles.”

More information, as well as a signup form and zoom link, can be found on the Career Month website.