Women’s concerns will be in the forefront at several central New Jersey events in the upcoming weeks.

The longstanding disparity between men and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will be addressed at a Girl Scout event on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Plainsboro.

The goal of the STEM fair is to spark girls’ interest in math and science, which studies say tends to wane starting in middle school. The 250 Girl Scouts in attendance will participate in hands-on science activities and STEM-themed classes on nuclear science, chemistry, and other topics.

The event, which is not open to the public, will also offer a college fair, a panel discussion on women and science, and fire fighting, plasma, and robotics demonstrations. For more information visit www.pppl.gov.

Other events of special interest to women:

Tuesday, May 20. Rutgers’ Office of New Ventures and Entrepreneurship will partner with the Central Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners to hold the finals of a business plan competition at 5:30 p.m. in Trayes Hall on the Douglass campus. The competition is part of NAWBO-CJ’s annual conference. To learn more about the event or to register, visit www.nawbocentraljersey.org/seed2014

Five finalists have been selected from a pool of nearly 40 entrants for the Supporting Emerging Entrepreneurs Development (SEED) business plan competition. Each finalist will deliver a three-minute elevator pitch to a panel of judges and a live audience. The winner will receive a prize package worth nearly $15,000.

Other highlights of the conference include a keynote speech by Jasmine Cordero from Rutgers’ Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, displays by sponsors and previous winners, and networking.

The event, the first one planned as a NAWBO-Rutgers partnership, has had a 70 percent increase in applicants from a diverse range of endeavors including business services, education, food, sciences, and health and wellness.

The competition was created to encourage the formation of strong businesses, the sharing of knowledge of experienced entrepreneurs, and support for women in the realization of their entrepreneurial dream.

Rutgers’ Office of New Ventures & Entrepreneurship (NVE) is dedicated to advancing commercialization of Rutgers intellectual property via the creation of start-up companies and other entrepreneurial initiatives; promoting entrepreneurship and facilitating entrepreneurship activities within the Rutgers community; and nurturing an innovation ecosystem around the university and beyond.

Also on Tuesday, May 20, women’s healthcare and other issues of workplace equality will be the focus at the Employers Association of New Jersey’s annual membership meeting at the Parsippany Hilton. “Woman at Work: Breaking Glass” runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $50. For more information visit www.eanj.org.

Under the Affordable Care Act, a person’s gender cannot be a factor in determining insurance premiums, and preventative measures such as mammograms and cervical cancer screenings are required to be covered. While the new rules are a step forward for women’s equality in the workplace, they also mean a step up in insurance costs for employers.

Leaders from business, law, government, and academe will discuss how to reach a balance between fairness and cost and how EANJ’s Affiliated Physicians and Employers Health Plan can help employers and their workers. Other women-centric topics of discussion will include unequal pay, work-family policies, pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodation; and leadership and development.

Speakers will include John Sarno and Barbara Codasco of EANJ; Bridget Gielis of Piscataway-based insurance company QualCare; Grace Potos from the U.S. Department of Labor; Alison Banks-Moore of Horizon-Blue Cross Blue Shield; Connie Ellis from the Rutgers Center for Women and Work; and Joan Verplanck of Profit by Association.

Tuesday, June 17. The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Alliance will honor four women with Women of Achievement awards for their professional accomplishments and contributions to the community. The recipients will be recognized at a breakfast at TPC Jasna Polana. Tickets are $45 for Chamber members and $60 for non-members. For information visit www.princetonchamber.org.

The 2014 honorees are:

Courtney Banghart, women’s basketball coach at Princeton University, for encouraging young women to strive for excellence;

Lynne Cannon, Board of Directors chair, Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton, and CEO, Princeton Management Development Institute, for leadership in healthcare;

Mara Connolly Taft, Taft & Partner, for marketing and social advocacy; and

Yvette Donado, Educational Testing Service, for nonprofit education development and leadership in the Hispanic community

“As accomplished leaders in their respective fields, each of these women serves as a role model and a source of inspiration for all of us,” said John Thurber, chair of the Princeton Chamber. “The Women of Achievement award is designed to recognize these women and the people who have supported them.”

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