Clarkson University and St. Lawrence County AAUW showing 'Hidden Figures' film Wednesday in Potsdam
Monday, March 27, 2017 - 8:28 am

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University and the St. Lawrence County Branch of AAUW are sponsoring a showing of the powerful film “Hidden Figures” Wednesday, March 29, in the Student Center, Multipurpose Room A, on the hill campus.

Clarkson sponsors include the Office of Student Life (OSL), Humanities & Social Sciences Department, David A. Walsh Arts & Sciences Seminar, CUPO, SPECTRUM, CUB, CUSA, and Student Success, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Nominated for three Oscars, “Hidden Figures” documents the real-life story of three African American women struggling to combat racial and gender inequality at NASA in the ‘60s.

Their story illuminates the important STEM contributions these women made, long before society understood how critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Math would become in the modern world.

The true story of the African-American female mathematicians and scientists who helped get the U.S. to the moon in the Apollo 11 mission teaches lessons about workforce education in our country, beyond just opening a door into a time of great racial and gender divide.

Prior to the movie screening at 6:30 p.m., there will be a reception for the panelists from 3-4 p.m., including refreshments, in the student center, multipurpose room A. This event is free and open to the public. Especially invited are girls and young women thinking about a STEM career path.

From 5:30-6:30 p.m., a panel will feature three African-American Clarkson alumnae discussing their experiences in engineering. The panels will be moderated by Dr. Laura Ettinger, associate professor of history at Clarkson, and an AAUW member. She was the recipient of the first St. Lawrence County’s AAUW Research Award in 2006 for her research into nurse-midwifery.

The panel includes Simoon Cannon, formerly of ExxonMobil, who is currently working at Delta as the general manager of their jet fuel refinery division. She graduated from Clarkson as a chemical engineer in 1997 and is currently pursuing her PhD in Business at Georgia State.

Lauren Laurer is the lead engineer at GE's Blades, Nacelles, and Spinners Center of Excellence. She graduated from Clarkson in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering in 2011.

And, Melissa Richards, who is currently pursuing her PhD in mechanical engineering at Clarkson, is serving as director of the Horizons Program. She earned her BS (2004) and MS (2006) in mechanical engineering at Clarkson. Also an AAUW member, she will be the first ever African-American woman to earn her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Clarkson.

Thanks to long-standing efforts by teachers, administrators and nonprofits, girls now make up about half the enrollment in high-school science and math classes. They are scoring almost identically to their male classmates on standardized tests, according to data compiled by the National Girls Collaborative Project, a nonprofit funded in part by the National Science Foundation that aims to increase girls’ participation in STEM.

Despite this success in high school, however, the percentage of women majoring in STEM fields in college still lags men, and this extends into careers, as well.

For example, about 11 percent of physicists and astronomers are women.

Just over 10 percent of electrical and computer hardware engineers are women.

Fewer than 8 percent of mechanical engineers are women.

AAUW has studied both the gender and technology gaps and has offered after-school STEM programs for girls, scholarships and grants for girls pursuing STEM in college, and mentorship programs that match high-school girls with women in STEM fields, among other programs.

For many years the St. Lawrence County Branch of AAUW has promoted STEM education for girls through attendance at the Clarkson Horizons camp via its Open Windows for Girls project, among other summer camperships.

For more information about Open Windows, contact the program coordinator for AAUW, Relani Prudhomme at [email protected] or 315-744-0651.

Membership in the St. Lawrence County Branch, founded in 1927, is open to anyone who supports the mission of AAUW: Advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

AAUW, with its nationwide network of more than 150,000 members and supporters, more than 1,000 branches conducting programs in communities across the country, and 869 college and university partners (including all four local colleges), has been a leading advocate for equity and education for women and their families since 1881.

For more information about AAUW in St. Lawrence County, contact President Betty Connolly at [email protected] or Public Policy Chair Kathleen Stein at 315-386-3812, [email protected], or visit the branch website,