Alum gets girls innovating in her industry through technology challenge
The work of getting more girls interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields is taking some innovative turns.
UWL alumna Stephanie Hammes-Betti, ’93, senior vice president of Innovation Design for US Bank’s Innovation team, was recently involved in Technovation, an event that challenged girls to solve real-world challenges using technology in Minneapolis in May. Her group from US Bank, a sponsor for the event, presented girls with the option of creating an app experience to learn about managing money in a fun and entertaining way.
We asked Hammes-Betti a few questions about the importance of fostering innovation in this group of young people.
Q: Why is US Bank interested in supporting an event like this that challenges girls to solve problems through technology?
A: We believe that supporting the talent growth of our community is essential to our future and our success. In addition to this, it helps us learn about what we may or may not be missing in our current products. Working with the girls taught us a lot about how they see the world and how they think about the challenges they encounter, and how they would like to solve those challenges.
Q: We hear a lot about the importance of getting girls interested in STEM fields because of the lack of equal representation of women in these careers. Are we making any headway in this area?
A: Sure — just by the fact there are these types of programs tells us we are making progress. As with any change in culture, it takes a few generations for us to see the results. I am very confident that this current focus on STEM for girls will have positive impact on the industry.
Q: What does Technovation do that makes it stand out as a way to get young girls in the pipeline for these STEM careers?
A: They take the girls through a 12-week program that stages the app creation step-by-step. They also arrange for coaches and mentors that make a huge impact on these students along the way. The girls are supported by some amazing role models that come from the technology industry to help.
Q: Do you see a lack of women in the banking field or specifically the innovation area you lead at US Bank? If so, what do you think more female employees would bring to your industry?
A: There is a lack of women in banking in general. I think [with more equal representation of women] we could have products and services that better represent the needs of the population.
Q: What was your experience? How did you get interested in your field?
A: I landed in technology when I decided to transition out of teaching. Technology led me into design and design led me into innovation. When I was in college, I had no idea that this type of role was possible. I love my job, and I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a space to work.
Q: Did UWL play any role in your pursuit of a finance/innovation career path?
A: I think UWL gave me a great foundation which has helped me be prepared for a multitude of jobs. I think the main thing is my professors encouraged me to follow my passions which has always paid off!
Watch the video “U.S. Bank helps girls learn how to be innovators.”