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UI women dominate in STEM leadership nominations

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Nine UI women were named as finalists in the Iowa Technology Association’s 10th-annual STEM awards.

The Technology Association of Iowa recognizes women leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math in the 10th-annual Iowa Women of Innovation Awards.

Of the finalists, nine of them hailed from the University of Iowa.

Though they were the most represented university in the finalists, the UI finalists were not selected as winners in any of the five categories in which they were nominated.

The Tech Association is a statewide organization that supports the technology industry and promotes Iowa’s reputation as a technology state.

This includes encouraging diversity in STEM fields. According to statement by association President Brian Waller, the group’s Board of Directors aims to engage more women in technology; recognizing the achievements of Iowa women in STEM is one of the ways it does this.

“[The Tech Association] works to foster a diverse technology community by promoting inclusive workforce initiatives welcoming women, rural Iowans, and minority populations,” Waller said in the press release.

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The 2017 finalists were announced in October; Iowa had the most representatives of the three regent schools in the state. Iowa State had five finalists; the University of Northern Iowa had one.

The UI was nominated in a wide variety of categories: Research Innovation and Leadership; Leadership Innovation; Diversity Champion; STEM champion; and Collegian Innovation and Leadership.

The UI STEM women were: Paloma Giangrande; Kristina Thiel; Fatima Toor; Dixie Ecklund; Maurine Neiman; Kristine Bullock; Sara Kaalberg; Megan Kelchen; and Sophia Mallaro.

Winners were announced at the awards dinner on Monday night at Prairie Meadows. They were chosen based on a number of criteria, including history of innovation and leadership, ability to think creatively and solve problems, and professional experience.

The majority of award winners were not from universities in general; aside from a Drake University winner and two Iowa State winners, the rest of the awards were presented to women of various companies and organizations, including John Deere, Kum & Go, and Principal Financial Group.

Despite the final results, the UI’s nine finalists demonstrate the diversity, women achievement, and women leadership that is present in the university’s STEM fields.

— Paige Schlichte

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