news_banner
Limestone Conference Ignites Spark for Technology and Science Within Women
WITS_Web
Dr. Suzanne Lindley (left), Professor of Biology at Limestone, introduces WITS participants to CSI forensics through fingerprint processing.

On Friday (March 23), 60 female high school students took part in Limestone College's  inaugural Women in Technology and Science (WITS) Conference.

The students are sophomores and juniors from Cherokee County high schools, and were were identified by officials at their schools as having strong aptitudes in the areas of science, technology, and health. The goal of the conference was to ignite and nurture that talent not only for learning but for excelling in those fields.

Limestone is distinctively qualified to host the conference as a large number of its science and technology faculty is comprised of women.

During WITS, they interacted with members of the female Limestone science faculty. A working lunch with Tammy Devine, President of QS1 Data Systems, concluded the event.

WITS participants were identified by officials at their schools as having strong aptitudes in the areas of science, technology, and health. The goal of the conference is to ignite and nurture that talent not only for learning but for excelling in those fields.

The lunch with Devine was an opportunity to interact with a woman who has thrived, especially in the technology field. She earned her Bachelor's degree in computer science and Master's in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina, and is a graduate of Duke University's Advanced Management Program at the Fuqua School of Business. Before being named QS1's president in 2011, she served the company in various roles including applications programmer, systems programmer, director of national marketing, chief marketing officer for QS1's healthcare-related products and services, and executive vice president.

Dr. Jane Watkins, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Limestone and organizer of the WITS Conference, says one of the reasons there are so few women in these fields is a problem of self-efficacy. "Many of the female students I've advised have said that they do not feel encouraged or qualified to pursue technology and health degrees, but their test scores show otherwise. I believe that one of the causes for this feeling of inadequacy may be a misconception that science and technology are fields in which only men can thrive."

That's an idea shared by Laura Sherbin, Director of Research for the Center for Work-Life Policy. "If you asked a child five years ago to draw a picture of someone who's really good with computers, an accomplished physician, or consummate businessperson, she's not a girl."

Results obtained in a 2010 survey by the US Bureau of Labor found that in 2010, 32% of all physicians and surgeons in the US were women. Conversely, women comprise 51% of those same occupations in the rest of the world. To support the theory that one of the reasons for the discrepancy is a lack of role models for young women, of the 129,929 medical school faculty in the US in 2009-2010, 36% were women.