Turning the tables on STEM stereotypes

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Two summers ago–nearly to the day–the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer swept the Twitterverse, highlighting the contributions and importance women and minorities have in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). The viral campaign came about after a slew of sexist responses to an ad for the company OneLogin, featuring a female engineer.

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“My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious,” reads the copy next to a photo of Isis Wenger, a platform engineer.

Commenters ridiculed Wenger for her appearance and expression, while others debated the validity of the campaign itself. She later took to the Internet to write about her experience.

“This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” she wrote.

But we at PSEG Long Island are determined to change that. We’re working hard to defy the stereotypes often associated with STEM professions, starting with some of our youngest customers.

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Thanks to our partnership with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, we recently unveiled the Energy Patch during a special event at the STEM center at Camp Sobaco. Girl Scouts receive the patch upon learning about electric safety, reliability, energy efficiency and community.

Media relations specialist Elizabeth Flagler and graphic designer Carol Mele designed the patch, which is shaped like the iconic Girl Scout Trefoil cookie. The patch comprises four diverse girls joining hands around a hard hat, light bulb, work zone cone and home, and “PSEG orange” stitching along the perimeter.

Our work to encourage and showcase female work in STEM doesn’t stop with the Girl Scouts. We also work closely with Stony Brook University to sponsor a STEM summer program, called Stony Brook University Exploration in STEM Research. In order to participate, students must come up with a research proposal, find a faculty member to act as a mentor throughout the summer, and submit an application, which is reviewed by a faculty selection committee.

The program is geared towards freshmen and sophomores who would not necessarily have the opportunity to do research.  Last year we met with three of the 20 students involved in the program, highlighted in this blog post. Of the 20 participants, eight were women, many of whom were also minorities.

In addition to our foundation work with Stony Brook University, PSEG Long Island hosts an annual supplier diversity fair, catering to businesses classified as New York State Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDVOBs).

The annual fair provides networking opportunities for these companies to meet with PSEG Long Island and other prospective clients. Attendees also learn how to do business with us; meet other businesses that currently work with us; and receive information on New York State’s supplier diversity program.

To see other ways we’re helping women and minorities succeed in STEM, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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