Sponsored post in partnership with The Motherhood on behalf of Covestro.
As a mom of three little girls, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help shape their perception of what each of them are capable of. As every parent would, I want them to truly feel empowered to try without fear of failure, but to also try with the intent of making it happen. I want them to be inspired, and driven and motivated to tap their utmost potential – and I want that to feel limitless for them.
Women like Paige Kassalen make my job just a little easier – she gives me someone to point to and say, “the sky is the limit!” (Seriously… keep reading!)
Paige is a real-life superwoman because she’s paving the way for young girls looking to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). As a market analyst at Covestro, a developer of raw materials for plastics, foams, coatings and adhesives, she supported Solar Impulse, a Swiss-based venture that became the first plane to circle the globe powered only by the sun.
For the past seven years, Covestro, has been a partner of Solar Impulse, providing key materials and its expertise for several Solar Impulse applications, including the plane’s silver coating, door, cockpit window and insulation. While the Covestro materials supported the plane in the air, Paige provided support on-the-ground as the only U.S. female engineer and younger member of the ground crew.
When asked what this role means to her – both as an engineer and a role model for young girls – Paige shared this anecdote:
“During my time with Solar Impulse, Covestro hired a photographer to take some action photos of me with the plane. I remember one pose in particular when I was holding a rope that I used to pull the plane out of the hangar for a sun charge. After the plane was done charging, one of my male teammates on the ground crew offered to take over and pull the plane back into the hangar for me. It was a very nice gesture, but I told him no. If I was going to take a picture doing something, then it was important to me that I actually completed the task. Handing the rope over to someone else would contradict the message I am trying to send. At the end of the day, if there was a young girl watching the sun charge, I wanted her to see that she could pull a 5,100-pound plane, too.”
On Friday, March 31, Carnegie Science Center’s 2017 Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair (Covestro PRSEF) will kick off at Heinz field. Students will show off their science abilities as they compete for more than $1 million in cash prizes and scholarships from local companies and universities. Sharing her experience as a member of the Solar Impulse ground crew, Paige will be the keynote speaker as the science fair wraps up on April 1.
In addition to being the title sponsor of the science fair, Covestro is also an active sponsor of Carnegie Science Center, which offers hands-on science experiences for kids of all ages, with the mission of inspiring our young people to explore careers in STEM. My kids love the science center, and we make it a point to visit annually, if not a few times each year to check out the newest exhibits.
So, why the emphasis on STEM? Why does it hit so close to home for a mom of three young girls?
Because STEM education matters, and empowering our young girls to explore every area of interest is so important. Although women make up nearly half of the working population, they remain underrepresented in STEM occupations. Women only represent 26 percent of STEM workers – and half of women drop out of STEM positions in the first 10 years. Source: American Association of University Women.
Lucky for us, Pittsburgh – the home of both Paige and Covestro (as well as the third oldest science fair in the U.S. – so cool!) – is in a transformational period where opportunities in STEM are endless. Paige put it best when she said, “Pittsburgh is a hub of high-tech startups and world-renowned universities. We have Carnegie Mellon, Google, Facebook and now Uber! It’s not unusual to see driverless cars zipping around our city. When kids are introduced to things like that at a young age, they start imagining a future that is much grander than what they originally thought!”