“That’s so cool!” was a phrase Kim Janeway frequently heard during Girls Day as she showcased tools she uses in her daily work as an energy engineer at Schneider Electric.
Presented by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Birmingham, AL, Girls Day is a global STEAM initiative to educate girls on the fascinating world of engineering and science. STEAM focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math to inspire critical thinking among students.
The SWE-sponsored Girls Day introduced girls to female engineering role models, offered panel discussions and featured interactive booths from companies in the engineering field. The event drew over 200 middle school girls from the Birmingham area and was held at the McWane Science Center on February 20, 2020.
Schneider Electric’s Kimberly Janeway, energy engineer, managed a Schneider Electric booth that offered demonstrations and hands-on activities to illustrate the daily life of an energy engineer. “The Schneider Electric booth gave the girls an opportunity to engage with things we use on a regular basis like an LED strip light and modeling tools,” says Janeway. “Having something hands-on for the girls to interact with was a new experience for many of them.
What were the girls most interested in learning?
“I had a lot of questions about renewable energy. Most were curious about the amount of school required for different types of engineers, like which specialties require a master’s degree,” says Janeway. “They were interested in travel and were especially impressed when they learned I’ve traveled the globe for my job.”
Janeway has participated in previous girl-mentoring events with high school students, who have a different viewpoint. “High school girls are thinking ahead because they are closer to their career. ‘Can you have kids when you’re an engineer?’ is a common question among young women.
“Schneider Electric has a very good family leave policy, including 12 weeks fully paid family leave. It’s an important issue for women, SWE and girls involved with STEAM, and I’m so proud that Schneider Electric now offers this benefit that helps more women stay in the workforce,” says Janeway.
In fact, Schneider Electric was named one of Forbes America’s Best Employers for Women (2019).
STEAM Across the Country
Janeway frequently volunteers for STEAM activities. “American companies should make science and engineering education a priority for women, and for the entire next generation. Diversity of thought leads to innovation,” says Janeway.
“When I was younger, it was difficult to find female mentors who could take time to talk. There were no other avenues for finding women in engineering and industry. I believe early exposure to STEAM is critical for young girls, so I enjoy volunteering.”
Now, the women of Schneider Electric participate in many such events across the country. The annual Girls in STEAM Empowerment Conference was celebrated for the 3rd year this spring.
At Schneider Electric, we highly value diversity —it’s one of our core principals—because we are committed to innovating for and with our clients. We work with cities, counties, schools and universities to help them reach their biggest goals. Our engineering teams, including Janeway, design comprehensive solutions that help these public entities to integrate new technologies that save money, boost energy efficiency and uncover new funding streams.