Detroit STEM conference may open doors for women

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

After graduating from Ann Arbor’s Huron High School, Dailani Young intends to pursue her top career choice: a physician’s assistant.

The 17-year-old hopes to learn more about the position and what steps others African-American women followed to succeed in the field.

That’s why she plans to attend the 19th Annual Women of Color STEM Conference starting Thursday for three days in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. An estimated 4,000 technologists, engineers, scientists, and students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields are expected for the conference, which is in Detroit for the first time, coordinators said.

Aimed at highlighting females in scientific and technical careers, it’s “motivation to see how I can prepare myself more to go into the STEM field,” Young said. “For teenage girls, it’s good to have people to look up to. I can ask them specific questions on what I can do, their stories and their journeys.”

It’s hosted by the Baltimore-based Career Communications Group Inc., which publishes Women of Color and other magazines highlighting diversity in the workplace.

Themed “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment,” the event offers seminars focused on topics such on managerial leadership and professional development; a career fair expo; an awards gala; and a pre-college program for students.

Coordinators say at a time when men outnumber women in some STEM fields, an opportunity to network and find support helps boost interest.

“Because of the growth in technology jobs in Michigan and also because we know the number of women in color in the STEM fields are considered lower than their male counterparts, we need to focus on this specifically and encourage women to pursue these careers,” said national conference chair Monica Emerson, a former executive director of Chrysler’s global diversity office and a diversity officer with the U.S. Department of the Navy.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to deliver the keynote address during a recognition luncheon Friday.

Award honorees at the conference include Alicia Boler-Davis, senior vice president, global quality and customer experience at General Motors.

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