WISE Words: Thoughts from the 2012 Women in Science & Engineering Symposium
You may have heard from Edison’s Desk Blogger Kristen Brosnan about the Women in Science (WISE) and Engineering Symposium we had here at GE Global Research December 4th and 5th. We invited engineering leaders from across GE as well as a number of external partners, customers and university guests. Lauren Chivee (SVP, Center for Talent Innovation), Denise Gammal (Director, Anita Borg Institute for Women & Technology), and Rosalind Hudnell (Chief Diversity Officer, Intel) were the distinguished guest speakers along with several panelists that included women from the United States Military Academy, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and NRG Systems. The focus for the event was around attracting, developing and retaining women in science and engineering.
It was a really exciting and inspiring event! As a 20+ year researcher, the stories and journeys of the many women I was able to talk with at the dinner and during the day-long event carried common themes of passion and determination and, in some cases just plain old fashioned resilience. It’s great to see how far women have come in the world of science and engineering in the over 25 years since I started college and even more inspiring is the concerted effort of both men and women within GE and in academic, government and other industries to help encourage students to choose STEM careers.
Themes of the day that resonated with me were sponsorship versus mentorship and the responsibilities of both the sponsor and the individual being sponsored. Some sponsors could be unknown to you, an interesting earworm for this that I noted was: “what’s your hallway reputation?” It was noted that the sponsor effect had a positive career impact of over 20 percent!
Other topics of note were the need for clarity of career paths, and appropriate systems of risk and rewards associated with taking them. Also pointed out was the awareness that personal connections are just as important as credentials and trade records.
I came out of the day with so many thoughts! It’s interesting to note, that despite some obvious differences between male and female technologists that need different approaches for retention, many of the topics discussed could easily be applied for all technologists, regardless of gender. What do you think are the most important topics for attracting and retaining technologists? I would love to have a conversation around this topic. Be sure to check out the slideshow below from the WISE event and subscribe to our new-featured topic on the blog, WISE Words. In the New Year, we will be launching a series from women across GE sharing their personal stories of how they make work and life, work together.