On February 12th, the Ghent University Aula welcomed the attendees to the TEDxGhentSalon, Women in STEM. Our attempt to spread the word of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, gathered a lot of enthusiastic, keen-on participants, eager to learn from women, whose careers in STEM proved to be successful and inspirational.
Yonca Braekman, our curator, gave a brief introduction of the event, and presented Peter Bertels from Flanders DC as host of the evening.
We kicked off with Saskia Van Uffelen, who talked about her experience on how to combine a successful career and a happy family life. When we asked her after the show about the perfect recipe to do so, Saskia said that she often shared her ideas with the family: “I asked my son what IT should be, and he replied “IT should be cool.” “IT is cool!” became her motto, and through her talk she showed us how it worked for her.
Our second speaker, Joke Van Der Auwera, couldn’t be more different from the first one with her project “On Wheels”. She gave us an interesting insight on how technology could support the lives of people with disabilities, and what our role in that could be. Her core message is that we need to start creating a world that is also accessible for people with disabilities. One way of doing this is motivating young girls to pursue a career in STEM.
Off to Katrien Strubbe, who gave us a quite unusual interactive talk about educating youngsters in the classroom. She literally brought her project “It’s all about chemistry” onto the stage, performing an experiment and getting the attendees on the edge of their seats. Katrien is convinced that we should educate our children in a more interactive way, so that they do not just absorb the knowledge, but could also co-create things. Taking into account the applause of the public, it was clear that this was the message worth spreading and putting into practice.
Our last speaker and the founder of Mimique Skincare, Nisha Van Wanzeele, talked about STEM from her own personal experience. As science didn’t give her the answers she was looking for, she started a quest herself willing to find a solution for her problem. In order to be able to do this, she needed to immerse herself into scientific literature and technology.
When asked at the reception about what has driven her, she said “It’s not because you are a woman, that you can’t do a job in science. I am a woman in a business world and I don’t care about the reaction. Women have to follow their dreams and do what their hearts are willing to. Not just stay at home and have children, but have a successful career too. So, just go for it!”
Judging from the tweets and the applause of the public, they seemed to be very enthusiastic about the event. After the show, we headed to the reception area, where we asked some attendees about their impressions and how they perceive women in STEM. This is what they had to say:
Corinne, 31, teacher
“We live in a digital world. Our future is tightly connected with technology, and it creates career opportunities for women. It was very inspirational to be here, and to learn from these amazing women.”
Sarah, HR manager
“It was an idea of my boss for me to participate in the event. It was a great experience. I have a lot to share now with our staff members, who work at the factory together with me.”
Michiel, On Wheels project
“Together with Joke we had this idea that we had to do something, because the information that we get is most of the time wrong. We have to do better, that’s what inspired us to start our On Wheels project together. We started by collecting information, and trying to figure out on how to bring it to people. We are a team, and have other men and women helping us, all volunteers.”
So ladies, how did our event inspire you? What are the exciting ideas that you took home-and how will you be implementing them? Let us know in the comments!