Meeting Ivanka Trump in Pittsburgh to Discuss the Promotion of Female Pursuit in STEM

Lauren Shovlin '19, Staff Writer

On August 14 of this past summer, I was one of a few girls chosen to represent my robotics team, Girls of Steel, to present to Ivanka Trump, Congressman Kelly, and Congressman Rothfus at Astrobotics in the Strip District.  

We were invited by Astrobotics to speak on the importance of the promotion of female pursuit in STEM and to encourage government funding for robotics and STEM related activities within schools.  

Ms. Trump, who is leading the efforts to develop the workforce, was extremely interested in our thoughts of what she and the government could do to improve female participation in STEM.  She was eager to hear about our experience with robotics, emphasizing how inspired she was by our drive to spread our mission of empowering women and girls in the pursuit of STEM by exemplifying female success in robotics.  

A strong advocate for female equality herself, Ms. Trump stressed the importance of female role models in STEM, which she argued would help encourage young girls to follow in their footsteps. She felt that our team did a great job of doing just that.

Ms. Trump believes that since technology is the way of the future, it is imperative that we properly prepare all citizens to navigate the advancing technological world: “I’m really passionate about ensuring that both students and mid-to-late career workers of all ages have the skills they need to thrive in the increasingly digital economy.”  Her genuine enthusiasm and strong beliefs in gender equality were clearly seen through her animated speech regarding the importance of equal representation in STEM and all fields of work, and her confession that she hopes her daughter and all young girls will be given the necessary amenities and encouragement to pursue their dreams, even in a male dominated field such as STEM.

What was most surprising for me was how easily she was able to relate to us on an individual level, conducting her discussion with us in a very conversational and interested tone.  She put us at ease with her genuine nature and down-to-earth character, which is often overlooked or ignored in the media, and was able to connect with all of my teammates in her own way.  I lost count of the amount of times she put her arm around me for a hug, while stating how inspired she was by our mission and our work to strive for the female promotion in STEM.

Before meeting Ms. Trump, I, along with all of my teammates, had preconceived notions of the first daughter, but we discovered that these judgements were ill-founded once we met and actually interacted with her.

Astrobotics provided myself and the other girls representing Girls of Steel with an amazing opportunity to meet such influential people who were genuinely interested in what we had to say and to speak on bipartisan issues that impact everyone.