WIE: Supporting and Championing Others

Oct 30, 2018 | Posted by: Sherry Hess

There are plenty of articles being written about the lack of female role models in STEM occupations and particularly at the C level in tech companies.  If we are ever going to make progress, we need to be our fellow females’ best supporters, champions, and mentors.  I can call up recent examples where I’ve been actively doing just this.

One example is where I championed another WIE advocate to put her name in for a management role at her firm. She needed to hear words of encouragement and support.  Never having been in a formal management role prior, she was interested in what I had to say and any advice I could give.  In addition to talking about credentials and responsibilities of the role, I told her about a statistic shared at the NI Women’s Leadership Forum that female candidates believe they need 100 percent of the traits asked for in a new job whereas men felt if they had greater than 50 percent, they were qualified.

Another example involves a bit of mentoring. At various meetings and events, I am often approached by technical females (and men too) asking if I have time for lunch, coffee, or a quick conversation.  Without asking why, I pencil something in. In these informal meetings/conversations, colleagues have opened up about needing help and advice on how to further their careers.  Whether this mentoring has entailed a few weeks, months or even years, I make myself available.  Supporting one another is key and sharing any advice I can give to ensure fulfilling careers for male and females alike is the least I can do.

As successful engineers, we need to continue to grow and learn on the left-side of our brain (IQ) – regardless of age or role. We need to stay inquisitive and tap into the “wonderment” of the technology around us, and to encourage and inspire others to feel that same excitement. But we also must ensure we are growing our right brains too (EQ) through mentorship and advocacy.  We need to continually look for ways we can encourage and help others and be sure to stay open and approachable. As leaders we need to contribute our time to events that not only encourage women now working in engineering but help to develop and mentor those just entering the field. We need to manage relationships up as well as down the organizational structure.

Whatever we do, we must continue to seek input, listen, and reflect… grow the synapses in our brain (mental connections), as well as people connections too.