West Virginia State University President Dr. Nicole Pride will be the keynote speaker for the 2020 West Virginia Women & Technology Conference, to be offered online this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Charleston-based TechConnect West Virginia is hosting this year’s virtual conference, which is free to view online. It will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at noon on Monday, Oct. 19.
As in years past, the 2020 webinar/conference will address the under-representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields and explore strategies for closing the gender gap in technology.
Pride started her career in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, moving later to the higher education field at North Carolina A&T State University. She was named the first female president at the Institute university in July and became the school’s 12th president in September.
A pair of panel discussions will follow Pride’s remarks. In the first, panelists from West Virginia State University will offer an insider’s look at the triumphs and challenges of operating within an institution that is designated both as an Historically Black College and University and a land-grant institution. In the second panel, West Virginia University representatives will address systemic racism and its effects throughout society.
The scheduled agenda for the webinar includes:
• 9 a.m.: Welcome and conference kickoff with remarks by TechConnect West Virginia Executive Director Anne Barth.
• 9:05-10 a.m.: Introduction of the keynote speaker, Pride, by Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; Pride’s keynote address.
• 10:05-11 a.m.: “Research Perspectives: HBCU & Land Grant Institutions,” featuring WVSU faculty members Dr. Padma Nimmakayala, Associate Professor of Research, Department of Biology; Dr. Barbara Liedl, Associate Professor, Department of Biology; Dr. Sean Collins, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Biology. Dr. Ami Smith, director of the WVSU Extension Service, will moderate the panel.
• 11:05 a.m.-noon: “Race Matters: A Conversation with Scholars,” a discussion featuring West Virginia University Assistant Professor Dr. Lauri Andress, School of Public Health, West Virginia University; and Stephanie House-Niamke, W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow and Doctoral Student in Sociology, WVU. Dr. Melanie Page, Associate Vice President for Creative and Scholarly Activity at WVU, will serve as the moderator for this panel.
• Noon: Conference conclusion and closing remarks.
Monday’s agenda is subject to change.
A nonprofit coalition committed to the advancement of West Virginia’s innovation economy, TechConnect West Virginia focuses on four technology sectors: advanced energy, chemicals and advanced materials, biosciences, and biometrics. Its headquarters is located at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park on Union Carbide Drive in South Charleston. TechConnect West Virginia hosted the first Women and Technology Conference in 2012.
“Our mission is to encourage more women and girls to pursue or migrate to careers in STEM,” Barth said. “The pandemic has sure reminded us tech is a big part of our lives. Often, these jobs pay better wages, so it’s particularly important for women who may find themselves supporting a family and who need a job to help them do that. There are training programs around the Kanawha Valley and the state, through our two- and four-year colleges that can help anybody find a career in technology.
“We’re going to get comfortable on a virtual event platform this year,” she said of the COVID-19-impelled format this year. “It will be a shorter duration, because it’s online rather than at a venue for the whole day with meals, networking, and the in-person exchange of ideas and meeting new folks.
“I’m thrilled that Dr. Pride agreed to be our keynote speaker. We’re happy to welcome her to share her thoughts about this topic ... she started her career for one of the tech giants, IBM,” Barth added.
Marshall University, the High Technology Foundation, the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, Suddenlink, West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust, and West Virginia University are sponsoring this year’s conference.