Alexis Vogt: Raising the Bar on Diversity in Optics

A Women in Optics presentation from SPIE Photonics West 2018.

23 March 2018
Alexis Vogt
Alexis Vogt speaking at the Women In Optics event at Photonics West 2018

The level of excitement ran high at the SPIE Women in Optics Diversity and Inclusion program held Monday, 29 January, at SPIE Photonics West 2018. From keynote speaker Dr. Alexis Vogt's inspiring "Raising the Bar While Raising Kids: Increasing Diversity in Optics Careers" talk, to the full-house, breakout workshop session that followed, every moment was thoughtful, intentional and animated.

Monroe Community College of Rochester's Dr. Vogt vividly illustrated her own challenges and successes as a working mother of three, while outlining her progressive efforts to address inclusion and diversity issues via an optics awareness campaign.

"It's about getting the word out that this industry exists. Not everyone knows about it, but they all have smartphones!" Vogt said to laughter from the diverse audience.

Her outreach includes a dual enrollment plan in which she partners with area high-school teachers, sharing her own optics-course notes with them to offer high-school students college credit while exposing them to the optics field; and an Optics Road Show that encourages hands-on STEM opportunities to children.

Dr. Vogt, who leads the nation's oldest optics technician training program, emphasized the need for women in optics to, among other things, inspire others within their organizations to overcome obstacles in their careers and be driven to mentor the next generation. "We will be stronger together," she said.

Discussions at the Diversity & Inclusion workshop
Discussions at the Diversity & Inclusion workshop after the networking reception

After the presentation, an opportunity for networking proceeded a workshop with participants engaging in discussions centered around increasing diversity in the field of optics. With specific goals such as improving diversity and inclusion in conference planning and organization, improving diversity and inclusion in SPIE committees, building diversity in the optics and photonics scientific community and making change early (K-12) in the community. It was a perfect way to round out the evening, demonstrating wide-ranging professional and personal commitments that reflected Vogt's engaging presentation.

Related SPIE content:

Optics and photonics jobs: what it needs, what it takes

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