Why I Think Any Woman Should Attend a PLEN Conference


When I arrived for PLEN’s Women in STEM Policy seminar, I had no idea what to expect. I arrived with only a vague idea that it was a conference for women interested in STEM and public policy. I figured STEM and public policy was kind of niche, and wondered how we could spend five days learning about it. However, throughout the week I was continually blown away by the amazing talks and experiences provided by the conference.

On my very first day, I realized not only was I surrounded by motivated young women interested in using science to make tangible change, but I was hearing from women who were already doing this every day. We heard from several speakers throughout the week, all of whom were using their technical backgrounds for the government in different ways. Some women were technical advisors for senators. Some women lobbied for science foundations or businesses. Some women researched for the government. Some women analyzed data for elections.

From all of their speeches and conversations, two things stuck out to me. First, no two women had the same path to STEM public policy. Every woman had a different interest, a different backstory. However, no matter their position or how they got there, they all had one thing in common: they were strong, motivated women whose scientific backgrounds were impacting national policy.

I arrived at the conference wanting to learn more about computer science and its role in the government. I left inspired to find my own path to technology policy.