Sunday, March 9, 2014

"It's not enough for women to participate. We must lead."

Hello everyone!

We're here in NYC for the week, and I already feel like I've been here for months. So much has happened in the last two days and it's been a whirlwind of excitement. Today was the NGO Consultation Day, and there were so many panels, speakers, performers, and people, that at first I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with everything around me. Of course, that all calmed down once I started listening to the panels. One in particular stood out to me, and speaker Analisa Balares, the founder and CEO of Womensphere was *my* highlight of the day.

I'm a tad embarrassed to say I wasn't familiar with Analisa's work prior to today's panel. But when she started speaking I was instantly hooked. For one thing, I was excited because she was Filipino, and being part Filipino myself, I clearly felt that what she was going to say would be important.

I was right. Analisa's story was incredible, but the main reason I was intrigued was because I felt similar to her (outside of ethnicity of course). For one, she wanted to be a theoretical physicist due to her fondness for Stephen Hawking. Likewise, I wanted to major in astrophysics because of Stephen Hawking, and with that I developed my interest in STEM. On top of that, I could relate to her INSANE  number of interests (seriously, she's done almost everything on the planet). She spoke about her interests in women's studies, economic development, sustainable development, and STEM education, and about her work experience with the UN as a youth, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and her time at Harvard Business school. Of course, with my various majors, I understood her wide range of interests and the connections she draws to integrate them. 

Finally, I adored the overall mission of Womensphere which is to "empower women and girls to lead, create our future, and transform our world". One way they aim to empower women and girls is through their idea of using role models in STEM and collaborating with partners to create programs to encourage the advance in STEM fields. Since this is a main component of my research, I knew that I could learn a lot from Analisa's work and decided to research more into the efforts of Womensphere. 

Most importantly, I got the chance to ask Analisa a question directly during the Q&A session. I was curious to hear her thoughts about the lack of female faculty members in STEM fields at universities, and what advice she had to advocate for increasing their representation on campus. She replied that it is a prominent issue and that using role models within the faculty level is one way to support the efforts of female faculty members. Womensphere attempts to expose these models and mentors by using cross-campus interactions to empower women educators in STEM. This reminds me of the PURPOSE Institute, since they focus on promoting underrepresented faculty members on NC State's campus in science and engineering. Though that may be on a smaller scale compared to Womensphere international programs, it was great to see similar initiatives occurring throughout the world.

To see Analisa's full story and the purpose of Womensphere, I embedded a link of the video shown at todays panel. Take a look!

Until next time!

*In other news, the Fellows found a great place for brunch called Virage. So if you're ever in NYC, it's a must EAT. Check it out!


  1. Thanks for the video. Sounds like you have found a fantastic international mentor! And I'm betting you'll be a Womensphere mentor one day.

  2. Great to hear that you've found your academic crush. Those are very important in life haha.

    Analisa sounds fantastic. Great to hear other women in STEM are doing big things at the UN. That could be you one day too!!!

    Be sure to keep up with Womensphere on social media and other outlets to stay informed. May even be worth Linking In to Analisa and sending her a note just telling her how much you appreciated her talk. It sounds creepy, but I promise it's totally normal. And maybe it will land you a badass job one day. Go Alex!