Featured Keynote Programs
STEM diversity and inclusion
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are essential to America’s economic growth and global competitiveness. The United States has a growing demand for STEM workers in 21st century jobs. Among the fastest growing jobs, 80 percent require math or science skills and there are currently over 600,000 unfilled jobs in the information technology sector alone. Research indicates that diversity in teams can drive innovation, yet historically, women, minorities, and people with disabilities have been underrepresented in STEM careers. Although they comprise a majority of college students, women and minorities represent a largely untapped talent pool for STEM. Dr. Ford will share insights from her in work in the Obama Administration on parental engagement, STEM education (k-12 and postsecondary) and workforce issues, as well as the role of entertainment media as the next frontier of STEM inclusion.
Storytelling and Entertainment Media as tools for social change
Studies of popular entertainment media such as cinema and television demonstrate the power of the media to influence the public’s behaviors and attitudes by shaping, cultivating, or reinforcing the cultural meanings and perceptions. One of the most important ways in which media shapes perception is by helping to build or break stereotypes. Positive examples of media campaigns prompting social change include the Harvard Alcohol Project that reduced drunk-driving related fatalities as well as the “CSI Effect” where positive portrayals of forensic science in various CSI television series caused undergraduate and graduate degree enrollment in forensic science programs to nearly double between 2000 and 2005. Dr. Ford will share best practices and insights on how targeted efforts to increase “pro-social” content, particularly in portrayals of STEM professionals, hold great promise to promote significant and sustained change.
Imposter Syndrome and Stereotype Threat
Silent Killers of Confidence
On the heels of achievement, it is not uncommon for people to feel like they just got “lucky” or that they do not deserve to be where they are. This is known as the imposter syndrome, which is typically associated with high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud." The close cousin of the imposter syndrome is “stereotype threat,” which is a situational predicament where people fear conforming to stereotypes about their social group. The imposter syndrome and stereotype threat can not only reduce confidence, but also impact performance. Dr. Ford shares her firsthand experiences grappling with these “silent confidence killers” while at Harvard and even the White House and the tactics she employed to overcome them.
“Dreams are like stars. You may never touch them, but if you follow them, they will lead you to your destiny.” One of the biggest barriers to success is the fear of failure. Dr. Ford will share the inspirational story of how she has faced fear head on in pursuit of her dreams. From taking a leave from her PhD program at Harvard to move to Hollywood, to turning down “safe” jobs and enduring unemployment to pursue her dream project full time. Dr. Ford has embodied a “high risk, high reward” mentality as she has navigated her career trajectory, and will share lessons learned from her journey.