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Embracing Diversity in Education: the Pittsburgh Community Gathers for the Swanson School’s Women’s + Networking Conference

PITTSBURGH (December 17, 2019) … More than 100 women and men from across the University of Pittsburgh and the local community of women business leaders gathered on November 16, 2019 for the second annual Women’s + Networking Conference, hosted by the Swanson School of Engineering. The theme for the 2019 event was “How We Support Each Others’ Successes through Diversity and Inclusion.” 

Sossena Wood (BSEE ‘11 PhD BioE ‘18), presidential postdoctoral fellow of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, commenced the event by delivering this year’s keynote speech. In her talk, titled “There is Artistry in Becoming You,” she discussed that her career path was not linear and that her experiences made her a change agent.  

“Through our individual experiences, good or bad, artistry forms; and often we have to step back, refocus and adapt our view to become the best versions of ourselves,” she said. “Pushback is prevalent in advocacy, but it is the summation of voices and support from others that help make real change.”

Following the keynote, attendees participated in a panel discussion about perspectives on Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. The New York Times bestselling book from the former First Lady of the United States prompts readers to find their voice and discover their story. The panel included a diverse collection of individuals from across University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and industry partners.


The conference also provided an opportunity for women-led student groups to gather and discuss their goals and activities for the year. Participating groups included Women in Science and Engineering Graduate Student Organization, Pitt DIVA, the Engineering Graduate Student Organization, Society of Women Engineers, Phi Sigma Rho, and the Graduate Women in Engineering Network.

The program ended with a networking brunch and reflection of the day’s topics. 

“We had a great turnout for this year’s event,” said Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Nickolas A. Dececco Professor of Industrial Engineering and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “It was wonderful to have such a diverse group gather to network and discuss how to empower and support one another in each of our endeavors.”

Click here to view more photos from the event.


Contact: Leah Russell