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86 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE Women in Electronics Reception Highlights Today's Issues Article by Michelle Te • I-CONNECT007 W omen's issues in STEM and other pro- fessional careers took center stage at IPC APEX EXPO 2023, particularly through the voice of keynote speaker Emily Calandrelli, an MIT-trained aerospace engineer and current host of Netflix's "Emily's Wonder Lab." While Calandrelli's general keynote, titled "The Sus- tainability, Economics and Advocacy of Space Explo- ration," focused on topics like the impacts of private investment and geopolitical upheaval on the space industry, Calandrelli didn't shy away from discussing issues that often plague women working in STEM fields. She demonstrated how directly addressing issues such as parental leave policies or helping male counterparts understand the specific needs of women in space (such as the number of tampons a woman might need to bring with her on a space mis- sion), could be resolved simply by speaking up and using platforms such as social media, where she has a large following. This direct approach was also part of her address during the standing-room-only Women in Electron- ics Reception, where, among several topics related to professional women, she shared her airport experiences as a nursing mother who encountered resistance as she tried to bring her lactation equip- ment and supplies through security. While this story elicited some laughs from the audience, Calandrelli empowered her mostly female audience to remem- ber, "You are not the burden—it's the system of inefficiency. Use your voice and speak up. Find an advocate." She challenged the group to fight against gender stereotypes and to continue reaching for any goals they set for themselves. Rather than trying to fit in, "I embrace my uniqueness," she said. "It's a sweet spot for empathetic communication." She talked about the genesis of her Netflix program, an idea she pitched to several networks, often with the feedback: "We love the concept, but we don't know if guys would relate to a solo female host." Despite the rejection, she continued pursuing her goal. Eventually, she received a call from producers at Netflix and by the time the show was ready to film, Calandrelli was nine months pregnant. "The responses I get from that show fuel everything I do," she said. "Parents are saying, 'Thank you, now my daughter wants to be a scientist,' or 'Now my son also sees girls as scientists.' Representation is so important." S&T

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