In April, I joined the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association (CRMA) Alliance in Manufacturing Excellence (AIME) as Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. I was invited to be the official communications person by Lulu Copeland, the facilitator and committee chair of CRMA AIME. Copeland is also the founding member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for whom I facilitated an inaugural panel years ago. My assignment at this event marking National Welding Month was to interview women in the welding profession.
Why bother writing when technology does much of the work for us? Templates plan for us, spell-check edits for us, and there’s enough information online to produce a ocean of plagiarized work. It’s no surprise that technical and business writing skills are becoming lost arts. Yet, successful communication with colleagues, teams, and clients relies heavily on written memos, emails, reports, proposals, and evaluations. Professional development should include the development of writing skills, but rarely does.
… Tech companies in dozens of states, and the educational infrastructure that supplies their workforces, are approaching consensus that the problem of “too few women” in high-tech is essentially a pipeline problem. And at the rate things are going, this conclusion will lead to front-loading the pipe at a rate Keystone’s advocates could only envy.
Every day it seems another Federal program, public initiative or round of personal or foundation funding is rolled out to accelerate the entry of women and minorities into STEM fields (Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This supply side solution could prove to be an expensive and long-term patch that requires a major shift in already challenged educational priorities.
Occupations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are critical to our nation’s workforce, infrastructure and future. STEM jobs are in high demand right now, across all industries, and will be for the foreseeable future–the number of STEM-related jobs is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But are we putting our money where our future is?
Sheila C. Boyington
President, Thinking Media-Learning Blade; National States Chair, Million Women Mentors
Sheila is a successful serial entrepreneur leading the creation of several products. Her company, Thinking Media is the creator of ACT’s KeyTrain® system for WorkKeys® and career readiness (acquired by ACT in 2011), PictureRx® for health literacy, and CharacterEd.Net® for K-12 character education. She is well-known for her passion, strong management, and leadership skills and has been credited for gaining high adoption of the Thinking Media tools including over 30 statewide contracts. Sheila has won numerous awards for her Entrepreneurship and Leadership and as a Professional Engineer.
Priya C. Boyington
Marketing Manager, Stitch Fix
Priya is an e-commerce marketer, passionate about the intersection of retail and technology. She currently resides in San Francisco and is a marketing manager for Stitch Fix’s newly launched men’s business and has previous experience at GoldieBlox, Bain & Company, and Fortune 500 companies. A graduate of Girls Preparatory School (GPS) in Chattanooga, she holds a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from The Wharton School.
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As a nation, it is imperative that we make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a top priority to address the national STEM workforce shortage and to remain competitive in the 21st century economy. A constant supply of well-trained STEM workers is essential to meeting the goals of finding ways to multiply the impact of investments, supporting organizations that assist underserved populations and use technology in innovative ways to scale their reach to more people.
ALICE AUGUSTA BALL (1892-1916)
Alice Ball was an American chemist who invented a chemical extraction process called the Ball Method. She was born in Seattle Washington and is the granddaughter of a slavery abolitionist, J.P. Ball. Alice graduated from the University of Washington in 1912 with a pharmaceutical chemistry degree and a bachelor’s degree in 1914. She went on to complete a master’s degree, during which she researched how to extract active ingredients from the root of the Kava plant, now used for its sedative and tranquilizing qualities.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and the writer of the first published computer program. She was originally named Augusta Ada Byron and was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his wife, Annabella. In 1835, Ada married William King, ten years her senior, and when King inherited a noble title in 1838, they became the Earl and Countess of Lovelace. Most women in her position at that time were not encouraged in their education or intellect. Known as “the first programmer,” Ada was assisted in her learned by a mathematician-logician, Augustus De Morgan, who taught Mathematics at the University of London.
While working for an English mathematician, Charles Babbage, Ada developed an interest in his machines which later proved to be the forerunners of the modern computer. In 1843, Ada succeeded in translating and annotating an article written by mathematician Luigi Federico Menabrea on one of Babbage’s machines. Using what she called, “Poetical Science”, Ada also made detailed description of how an “Analytical Machine” could be programmed to calculate a sequence of rational numbers. Babbage referred to Ada as an “enchantress of numbers.” Today the Ada computer programming language developed in the 1980s for the U.S. Department of Defense is named in her honor.
Ada Lovelace is one of the biographies in the STEM Women Study Guide. The Guide is a classroom tool that encourages & educates women in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM)
The Spiral Notebook, including discussion questions, was created in coordination with womengroundbreakers.com
Special thanks for their support of the project:
Platinum Sponsors: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Humanities Tennessee
Gold Sponsors: American Diversity Report, Chattanooga Writers Guild, EPB Fiber Optics, excellerate!, Million Women Mentors, Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Southern Adventist University, The HR Shop, ThreeTwelve Creative, UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science, Volkswagen Chattanooga.
Special Thanks Southern Adventist University Intern Abigail White
The push to attract women to STEM education and careers is gaining steam, but the impact is questionable. Young women have ample cause to be discouraged given the decrease of the number of women professionals in many STEM fields. Bucking the trend, efforts to encourage women to embrace STEM have increased dramatically. Those efforts span the country, including in Tennessee where the Women Ground Breakers recently held their annual Chattanooga GroundBreaking Storytelling featuring women in STEM.
I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. My father was a retired Turkish naval officer and I grew up on naval bases. My family sacrificed to educate me and my brother who is a medical doctor. Without an education, you can’t do anything. In Turkey, they kill each other to get a college degree. I attended elementary school early and learned to read early, a rarity in Turkey. These were French schools, and I spoke French before I spoke English.