Ignite San Francisco

I’ve been to Mission High school twice in the past couple of months for an event put on by Ignite, an organization started in Seattle to connect young women in middle and high school with professional women working in STEM fields.

These are low-key events where small groups of high school women gather in a classroom and spend 10-15 minutes chatting with each of speakers about their experiences leading up to their career in a STEM field. And these careers were varried! We had game designers, and structural engineers. Biomedical engineers and environmental analysts. Data analytics and software engineering.

Being able to chat with other women about the choices they’d made, struggles they’d faced, and successes they’d acheived was certainly great for these young counterparts:

“I really like learning what people do in life because I could grow up and take their footsteps.”

“The most exciting thing to me today was learning about all the different types of jobs there are and even though women aren’t in that many technical jobs, more and more are going in every day.”

“Not all of them were interested in what they are doing now when they were my age”

“I saw the inside of a Mac.”

Ignite San Francisco Mission High School Ellen Norton talks about her experiences in STEM with young women from Mission High School

However, for me I got even more out of the experience than these young women did. I realize that it’s rare for me to interact with so many interesting, qualified women. I am the only woman in my development team and have been my whole career starting with my first mechanical engineering internship at OSRAM Sylvania.

Sure, I go to women who code events and the like but there’s something unique about hearing a bunch of other women talk passionately about what they do and encourage others to follow their footsteps. It reminds me how lucky I am.

Written on November 13, 2013