Alyx Horace is a not only a senior MIS major at the Rawls College, but is also a young advocate for innovation and women in STEM. Recently, Horace spoke at the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Silicon Valley Meet-up about overcoming the diversity issues women face in STEM industries and changing the conversation to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Horace first joined UIF two years ago after hearing about the program through an entrepreneurial student club on campus. UIF is run by Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and was originally created as part of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation, a five-year National Science Foundation grant.
She was chosen out of an international community of 1,500 fellows to help facilitate the March 2018 Silicon Valley Meet-up, which serves as the orientation for new fellows, on Google Campus and Stanford's d.school. Facilitating fellows were asked to give speeches to the 300 attending fellows, and Horace chose to present on the challenges of being a woman in STEM.
Her solution-oriented speech set out to address her experience as commonly being the only woman in STEM, both in academic settings and in industry. The moving presentation titled "Pictures with So Many Men" shed light on how our culture subconsciously pushes young girls away from pursuing STEM fields.
"I love tech. I love working in tech, the people in tech and what the industry does," she said. "But when you look around the room and see maybe three other females out of 30 people, you know there are more problems to solve than the software you're working on."
Last year, Horace had the opportunity to apply what she learned in the UIF program when she took a break from school to take an artificial intelligence startup through an accelerator program in Korea. She spent five months representing the U.S.-based company, pitching in competitions and meeting with investors.
"Startups are a great training ground for work ethic and problem-solving. In a small company, you have the ability to look around, see what needs doing and do it. It also entails a lot of responsibility and ownership, but there's nothing more rewarding than seeing rapid improvement and traction. I've had the ability to work with some of the brightest minds in tech and business, which has had more impact than I can possibly put into words," Horace said.
UIF trains students in design-thinking, a protocol for problem-solving with an emphasis on entrepreneurial ventures and startups.
"Design-thinking is a fundamental way of problem-solving that can be applied to anything. Effectively, it's about understanding the problem, looking at it from different angles and getting to the best solution. UIF empowers students to be creative and take action, and it has built a really close-knit, high-caliber network of people. The group is full of dynamic students and working professionals who are doing really unique things," Horace said.
You can watch Horace's full presentation here.
Photo credit: Patrick Beaudouin