The Women in Space Science Award Celebration is a special event held annually and is hosted by the Adler Planetarium Women’s Board. We are in our twelfth year, and I am so proud to be involved with this program. Each year, the Women’s Board recognizes women who have made significant contributions in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Founded in 2003, WISS was first an evening program, and in the past decade it has evolved to a corporate luncheon and afternoon student program. Approximately 250 middle school aged girls from Chicago schools attend the afternoon celebration and get to hear from the honoree. This year, we are honoring Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. The program provides an inspirational afternoon for the girls and motivates them to pursue careers in STEM.
We are especially excited to have Gwynne as our honoree this year. She is part of a private company revolutionizing space technology and exploration. Gwynne holds an integral role at the pioneering SpaceX behind founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, and is responsible for customer relationships and company growth. She is also originally from Chicago! Gwynne grew up in Libertyville, IL and attended Northwestern University where she received, with honors, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics.
In addition to engaging in an interactive discussion with Gwynne, the girls participate in a dynamic, hands-on ‘STEM Festival’ facilitated by Adler educators and scientists and view a planetarium sky show. This programming provides a unique opportunity for the students and allows them to think about the careers related to STEM. The girls will hear about Gwynne’s career path and the education she received to help her in her career aspirations. Reaching out to the girls at this age is a pivotal time to empower girls and get them excited about science.
Proceeds from the Women in Space Science Award Celebration continue to support the Adler Planetarium’s vision to inspire the next generation of explorers.
Written by Sara Rebmann, Women's Board coordinator at the Adler Planetarium.