By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The Northborough Junior Woman’s Club will be hosting its 10th Women in STEM Conference Saturday, March 25. The free event is open to girls in fifth through eighth grade and will expose them to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math through workshops presented by dynamic women role models working in those fields.
A light breakfast will start the day followed by keynote speaker Dr. Oneeka Williams, a distinguished urologic surgeon at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and assistant clinical professor at Tufts Medical School.
Williams is also the author of the children’s book series “Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo-Super Surgeon on the Go,” whose motto is “Not even the sky is the limit!” Williams is committed to encouraging excellence and inspiring especially girls and children of color. The book series is a mechanism to engage children in the joys of science at an early age. Her belief is that by planting the seeds of curiosity, incorporating science content into an entertainment platform and delivering the message in the form of a powerful, confident girl character, she will be able to create early imprinting of what is possible.
The girls have the opportunity to attend four, 45-minute workshops led by professional women in fields such as architecture, physical therapy, dentistry, health and nutrition, surgery, environmental science, and forensic science. All presenters volunteer their time to the event.
“We offer up to 16, hands-on workshops from which the girls may choose four to attend,” said Northborough Junior Woman’s Club Education Committee member Martha Michalewich. “We try to keep the class size to no more than 12.”
She has seen the conference grow over the past 10 years.
“Each year we have an increasing number of participants and presenters; many returnees – this alone speaks to the success and need for such a conference,” she said.
To her knowledge, Michalewich said, there are no similar programs in the area.
Architect Diana Nicklaus has been a presenter since 2012, in addition to providing sponsorship through her firm Saam Architecture.
“I take the girls through a quick presentation on aspects of the industry and then help them design their own studio apartments,” she said. “I give them a scale to teach them about drawing a plan to scale.”
As a mother of two girls, Nicklaus believes in the mission of the conference and said that she never had an opportunity to learn about such a wide range of technical careers at that age.
“They need to understand what options are available and that any profession, even a male-dominated one, is open for women,” she said. “I love seeing the students. They ask great questions, do amazing drawings, and I am often inspired myself by the keynote speaker.”
The conference concludes with a networking lunch.
Michalewich said that the free event would not be able to be run as successfully each year without donations and support from the community and area businesses, which help to offset breakfast, lunch and facility costs.
The event will be held at Algonquin Regional High School, 79 Bartlett St., Northborough, from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and is open to girls from the Metrowest and Worcester areas. Enrollment is limited to the first 180 girls and choice of workshops is based on a first-come, first-served basis. The popular program always fills to capacity.
Registration and sponsorship information on the Women in STEM conference can be found at www.northborojuniors.org.