Peak Performance Inc., along with the Tennessee Manufacturers Association (TMA), held their Celebrating STEM Women event through the Zoom virtual platform on June 3rd from 6:00 – 7:30pm. This event was sponsored by BASF, Husch Blackwell, LLP, S&ME, WACKER and Nokian Tyres.
The event was held in collaboration with the Tennessee Chapters of the Women in Manufacturing (WiM), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Million Women Mentors (MWM) to celebrate and recognize women in STEM professions and their contributions to the study and practice of STEM and included over 70 women across the state of Tennessee and parts of Georgia.
Denise Rice, President of Peak Performance and Manufacturing Consultant to the Tennessee Manufacturers Association, opened the event by acknowledging the importance of recognizing women in STEM fields and how imperative it was to still hold the event amid the current pandemic, economic and social issues that we are all currently facing. AJ Jorgenson, Senior VP for Strategic Initiatives for The Manufacturing Institute, followed by giving opening remarks discussing how The Manufacturing Institute is dedicated to supporting and growing the manufacturing workforce through programs aimed to excite, educate and empower women, in particular, through a new initiative that was launched in 2012, the STEP Ahead Awards which honors 100 extraordinary women and 30 emerging leaders, annually, on a national platform. Jorgenson acknowledged the 2020 STEP Ahead Award winners from Tennessee and Georgia during the event. She concluded with having all participants open their STEM Women Peak Collection Conference boxes that were mailed to them prior to the conference.
Keynote speaker Ronald Harris, VP of Diversity & Inclusion, Blue Cross Blue Shield, delivered an empowering and inspiring message recognizing the many women that have been at the forefront of the world’s most famous technical and scientific achievements of the STEM world for many years. Harris’ message centered around the fact that regardless of your field of study, every human being has equal dignity and equal worth and how it is our duty to honor that in the way we treat one another. Harris also honed in on the belief that making inclusion a priority is a way of building a competitive advantage and making sure that you have all the voices at the table is a sure way to watch engagement and relationships thrive within your organization.
Harris emphasized, “Let’s explore some ways that you can start to make a difference in whatever arenas where you have influence. Remember that representation matters. Remember that people don’t always see their own potential. Remember that diversity is a fact, but inclusion takes intentional effort. Remember that cultural competency is about understanding how each person’s story affects how they see the world – and that our differences make us stronger.”
Participants were then divided into breakout rooms where they were virtually visited by leaders from the host organizations, Women in Manufacturing led by Denise Rice, President of Peak Performance & Manufacturing Consultant to the Tennessee Manufacturers Association; Society of Women Engineers led by Alice Cannella, Chattanooga Chapter Leader; Million Women Mentors led by Sheila Boyington, co-Founder and President of Thinking Media; and BASF, event Champion Sponsor, led by Ashley Thompson, Operations Manager. These group leaders discussed their organizations, how they are helping to empower women in STEM fields and the benefits and support they offer to women in the manufacturing industry as well as how networking and mentoring have been an integral part of their success.
Rice concluded the event by reminding everyone, “We hear so much that this is our new normal, and I just want to say, no, it cannot be our new normal, although it is our new reality. We can be the change and we can continue to inspire, mentor, come together and hold each other up. That is what STEM women do.”
If you would like information on joining the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Manufacturing or Million Women Mentors, just follow the links provided and it will take you to their membership information page.
Click here for our official press release.