Panel at Burton High School


September 19th, 2019 │Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School | by Melissa Kovar, IGNITE Advisor

On September 19th, Burton High School hosted an IGNITE Women in Tech panel in our Little Theatre to inspire and encourage students to participate in the various technology and engineering classes, after school programs and clubs at Burton, and to start thinking about a potential career in a STEM field!

22 female identifying students attended and heard an introduction to the various programs at Burton and IGNITE Worldwide. They were angered and upset to learn the low numbers of women in STEM. Then, students heard from a group of four panelists who work in those fields:

  • Alexandra Liguori, Physicist, SF State,
  • Melissa Afterman, Human Factors Engineer, UCSF
  • Melinda Phan, Engineering Operations Manager, Proterra Inc.
  • Jennifer Be, Software Developer, Groupon

The women told their stories of how they ended up where they are, including their experiences in high school, college, and their careers. Girls were inspired by the women’s experiences and the challenges they overcame to get to where they are today. They asked a lot of questions, including about how to build their confidence to be resilient to the sexism that they may encounter in STEM fields. 

Thank you to each of our four panelists, Alexandra, Melissa, Melinda, and Jennifer, for sharing their stories with the girls and making this an engaging and valuable experience for them. The stories shared and questions answered were powerful and have inspired many of the girls to be more interested in STEM and to study harder in their courses.


After attending this event:


of girls/non-binary students are more interested in STEM


of girls/non-binary students want to study harder to attend college and further their education

Here's what the students enjoyed most:

"I liked how every person on the panel stories were so interesting."

"How there are some women who are making a change by doing what they're great at (engineering)"

"I enjoyed how all of the panelists tried hard to get to where they are. It inspired me because it makes me want to work hard and ask for help when I need it."

"Honestly, I love every part of it."