Women in Science returns to Aberdeen for 20th year

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:51 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After a few years of cancellations due to the pandemic, the Women in Science conference returned to Aberdeen.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Women in Science event, which took place at Northern State University on Tuesday. While progress has been made in the last 20 years, Women in Science committee member and meteorologist Kelly Serr said it is still important to encourage young women to consider a science-related career.

”There has been an increase of women in science careers throughout the years, and we’re happy to see that, but we still are underrepresented. So, conferences like this are still important for getting young women involved,” said Serr.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women only made up 27% of the STEM workforce in 2019, despite representing half of the total U.S. workforce.

“There’s a lot of confidence issues that we see in young girls, men versus women. We just need them to know that they can be in these careers and do a good job and that we need more women in the science careers because they are underrepresented at this time,” said Serr.

Around 300 young women in middle school and high school traveled from places such as Huron and Ellendale to hear from female professionals in science fields.

”We have a wide variety of speakers this year at our conference. Anything from wildlife biology to physicists to medicine, agriculture, just a wide range of different types of science careers that girls might not have thought about. So, they’re here to learn about the wide variety of careers they could go into,” said Serr.

This year’s keynote speaker was Audrey Sherman. Sherman is a division scientist for 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sherman has been granted over 130 patents, and was also featured as a Final Jeopardy Clue on the show in 2019.

When Sherman was asked to speak to the young women at the conference in Aberdeen, she didn’t have to take much time to think about her answer.

”I answered that email within two seconds with one word: Yes. Send Back. We’re making products for everybody. If you’re making products for everybody, you should everybody’s input in the products, particularly women. We have good ideas, but we need to be heard,” said Sherman.

Warner High School junior, Mikayla Browning, created the logo for this year’s conference. Browning said although she’s considering a career in graphic design, the Women in Science event helps her appreciate what women are capable of.

”You can really learn a lot about different possible careers that you could have in the future, which is really helpful. Even if you’re not learning about your next possible career, you are learning about different ideas of what other people do and appreciate the other women in the field,” said Browning.