Tea Talk 2020: each for equal, superheroes, hard-to-catch neutrinos and more

On Tuesday, April 29, about 100 women gathered online to hear four colleagues share their unique stories and pivotal moments in their careers.

Hosted by the Fermilab Women’s Initiative, the Fermilab Young Professionals and the Fermilab Society of Women Engineers, the third annual Fermilab Women’s Tea Talk event was the first of the series to be hosted virtually.

About 100 people participated in the third annual Women’s Tea Talk at Fermilab on April 29. This was the first to be hosted virtually.

Deputy Head of the Quantum Science Program Farah Fahim explained how her mother and grandmother were instrumental in inspiring her passion for math. Her notable math skills were only the first hint of a successful career that led her to Fermilab. Fahim also provided the participants with some valuable advice and interesting food for thought about childcare and women’s confidence and capabilities in the context of “each for equal” (#EachforEqual was the International Women’s Day 2020 campaign theme).

Anne Norrick, postdoctoral research associate with the NOvA experiment, took the participants on a journey across America while summarizing her education in STEM and showing on a map the location of the long-baseline neutrino physics experiments she worked on. Norrick’s passion in teaching and communicating science showed when she briefly explained how neutrinos oscillate and are detected. “You should work here!”, Norrick recalled her mother suggesting to her while visiting Fermilab on a family road trip — a forward-looking prediction.

The event took a twist when Becky Thompson, head of the Office of Education and Public Outreach, talked about how she got into her physics outreach career. The overview included a mention of the “Scully Effect” — the phenomenon of the character Dana Scully from “The X-Files” TV show inspiring girls to enter STEM fields. Yes, it’s a real effect, backed up by data, as Thompson showed.

Kate Sienkiewicz, LBNF Near Site Conventional Facilities project manager, shared bits of her own educational and professional journey, from developing self-reliance to graduating with an engineering degree and obtaining a MBA. After working at the CIA, she came back to her home state of Illinois, where her family is, to work at Fermilab.

In addition, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer Alison Markovitz, also the executive sponsor of the Women’s Initiative, provided welcome remarks. After the event, she noted the enthusiastic comments during the talks and said that events like this “help us better connect with our inspiring colleagues.” Several of the participants shared the same opinion.

If you would like to be informed about future events like this, send an email to vhiggins@fnal.gov to be added to the Women’s Initiative mailing list.

Maura Barone, Eileen Beno, Amanda Early, Katherine Gregory, Valerie Higgins, Monika Lasota, Lucy Nobrega, Laura Rogas, Julie Saviano, Dawn Staszak and Hannah Ward organized the event.

Maura Barone and Valerie Higgins are members of the Women’s Initiative leadership board.