The “Unleash your Creativity Through Technology” tour brought a multitude of women from diverse fields of study to discuss their issues with current gender inequity and how to progress toward higher education for women.
On Tuesday evening, stiletto-clad women of Atlanta gathered at the Historic Academy of Medicine at the Georgia Institute of Technology for the tour, hosted by the companies Rebecca Minkoff and Intel. The partnership aims to give female students the opportunity to explore career opportunities available with science, technology, engineering and math degrees and give them the opportunity to network.
Minkoff is currently one of the industrial leaders in high-end, wearable technology with handbags and wallets equipped with phone-charging gadgets, bracelets that link to smartphone notifications and other tech accessories integrated into jewelry items. Forecasted to be worth $34 billion by the year 2020, the wearable-technology market is trending in luxury fashion, especially among millennials.
Behind an open microphone, young women lined up to speak to a panel of thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and activators, including Forbes “30 Under 30” media mogul Tiffany Pham, President of the Intel Foundation Rosalind Hudnell and fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff.
What began as a simple Q&A session on the second stop of the “Unleash Creativity” college tour quickly turned into an expert-advice session. Female students across a diverse range of majors and colleges in Atlanta shared their personal struggles in achieving their career goals. From female students facing gender inequity in research labs to being told they can’t balance a career with a family, women across all disciplines expressed their experiences with discrimination or inequality.
On confronting those who do not support equality, Minkoff said “(You have to) strengthen the conversation. Don’t delete men from the conversation. They have to learn to recast the system. They have to start to understand what it’s like.”
With the evening’s theme of #StayWithIt, which encourages women to continue to work in STEM fields, panelists discussed the importance of finding mentors, working at passions and being unafraid to fail.
The panelists’ advice comes at a crucial time for female development in college and higher education in the STEM fields.
According to the National Science Foundation, “Rates of science and engineering course taking for girls/women shift at the undergraduate level and gender disparities begin to emerge, especially for minority women.”
The foundation concluded that once girls succumb to social pressures such as gender discrimination in college, many drop their pursuits of STEM degrees.
Trisha Roy, the CEO and founder of Barn and Willow, a company that manufactures custom drapery and Roman shades, stressed the importance of going after your own opportunities.
“Half the battle is showing up,” she said. “The fact that you showed up here makes you 50 percent better than the people outside this door.”
Allowing college women to identify with and be inspired by an influential, powerful and diverse set of women is the goal that the Minkoff and Intel partnership is working toward.
As the discussion came to a close, the attendees were invited to take part in breakout discussion sessions with each panelist under topics ranging from “Promoting Your Personal Brand” to “Women in Corporate America.”
A millennial herself, Minkoff’s discussion about her brand’s strength through innovation and technology before her technology was mainstream made her message more authentic and inspiring to an audience of future industry professionals. With the range of gender issues, from equal pay to maternal leave, debated in today’s atmosphere, empowering women to “stay with it” in STEM fields is a trend that will continue to increase with the expansion of education and equality.
Jenna Cooper is a student at Emory University. A version of this column originally appeared in The Emory Wheel.