A young entrepreneur is working to make STEM careers more accessible across racial and gender lines.
North Carolina-native Ive (pronounced Ivy) Jones is a military kid attending Princeton University in New Jersey. She has been focused on creating opportunities for young women of color in industries that have lacked diversity. And she says it begins with an introduction and access to education.
At 16, Jones founded the Young Women in STEM Conference, now in its third year. As a junior in high school Jones knew she was fortunate to be in a school where STEM programs were available. She said she understood that not every school, especially underserved schools, provided those same opportunities, so she started planning her first conference for middle and high school girls.
Now a full-time student at Princeton, Jones is still hosting this conference, year after year.
“I want to see young women in STEM understand their value and be innovative without boundaries. The conference connections, guest speakers, and overall purpose is what motivates me to continue,” Jones said.
The third annual Young Women in Stem Conference was held earlier this year. The program provided education and advocacy for those with a passion and aptitude for science, technology, engineering, and math through small-group presentations, hands-on activities, keynote addresses, and tours of laboratories.
By encouraging young women to pursue leadership positions, cultivating early research skills, and providing network opportunities and a supportive community within STEM, Jones is creating a world where more young women chase after their dreams.
“As a young African American woman in an industry that is mostly dominated by a majority culture, I want to be the change in this industry for my younger counterparts,” said Jones. “I’ve known that many times people can’t be what they don’t see and I want to be the picture of hope for young minority women in STEM.”
Traditionally, STEM careers have been held by younger white men. According to a recent survey conducted by USA Today, “59 percent of the field is younger than 50, 70 percent are white and 65 percent are male.” Jones’ goal is to change that by being a connector of ambitious, young girls and big STEM companies, such as SAS, CISCO, Ecodyst and Duke Health.