Mentors Made the Difference for “Wonder Women of STEM!”April 23, 2012
Many people choose careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) because these fields are challenging, exciting, and present great opportunities for satisfying work and a good living. Unfortunately, women sometimes choose to leave STEM career paths because they are discouraged by the cold climate for women and a lack of mentors and role models.
But with the help of their mentors, our two guests for the Wonder Women of STEM! Webcast — which will take place on Thursday, April 26 — successfully launched their STEM careers. And they continue to work with STEM today.
When cyber-information analyst Lisa Lord entered her first technical job, she says a new manager named Margaret “recognized that even though I was hired into an administrative position, I had a lot more potential than that.” The relationship blossomed, and the two are now friends. Margaret helped Lord advance within the company and even supported her when she decided to go to another organization. Margaret opened up the opportunity for Lord to take on a security-clearance position at Northrop Grumman, where she now works. With support from her company and a Career Development Grant from AAUW, Lord was able to go back to school to earn a degree in cyber security.
Lord knows that furthering her education will increase her job security in a growing field, but she says that her 5-year-old daughter has been a great motivation as well.
“I want her to know whatever she is passionate about, she can do,” Lord says. “It doesn’t have to be traditionally female or traditionally anything — if she is good at it and wants to do it, she can.”
For Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and co-author of the report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, a career in STEM seemed like fate. In high school, she decided not to take calculus, but within weeks she was spending her lunch hour tackling formulas and equations. In college, she declared a social science major, but by junior year she was playing catch-up for a second major in engineering.
Before coming to AAUW, Corbett had a job in aerospace engineering. Women mentors not only became her natural friends in the office, they also helped her handle an out-of-line boss and were the reason she was hired and moved up in the company. Corbett enjoyed working with engineers who she felt were focused and straightforward, and the salary was substantial. But because she had little interest in the defense sector, the right balance still wasn’t there. That pull between doing work around social issues and pursuing STEM is something a lot of women struggle with, Corbett says, but now she has found that she can do both in her research for AAUW.
Hear more from Lord and Corbett by joining AAUW and the JASON Project for the first Wonder Women of STEM! webcast on Thursday, April 26. To listen to and interact with these exceptional women, tune in online at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. EDT for Corbett’s interview and at noon or 4 p.m. EDT to hear our conversation with Lord. Share this opportunity with the young people in your life so that they can see what it means to be a STEM role model — and perhaps become mentors themselves!
This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.