Women's Careers in Science and Engineering


Submitted September 3, 2003, 9:40 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
yes - my father started out as a forester, and always shared his love of the sciences. I also got encouragement from my mother.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes - I went to a women's college (Smith) where there was ample support and no questioning of a women's interest in the sciences. There were not, however, engineering courses available there at the time. When I spent my junior year at Purdue, there were very few women in the engineering courses I took, all male teachers and teaching assistants, and relatively little support.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
No to all
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
When I started out as an environmental engineer, I was considered somewhat of an anomaly due both to my being female and to having a combination of biology and engineering in my background. 20 years later, both are more accepted, and welcomed.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
When I worked for one of the older engineering firms in the 1980s and 1990s, the upper level management were mostly men, and tended to offer less mentoring and advancement opportunity to women. I've since moved on to more progressive-minded firms where this is not the case. Most recently, I've been on my own as a certified woman-owned business. This gives me opportunities to get roles on projects that I might not otherwise have being a sole-proprietor.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
In order to manage both, I've had to work part-time. I eventually found the best solution to be being self-employed and working out of home.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I like being self-employed in that I can set my own hours. I do, however, get and enjoy lots of professional interaction with others in that I am usually a subconsultant to a larger firm.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Absolutely -- change has been for the better. When I started we had to fight to use accrued sick leave when we had babies. Now we have mandatory maternity leave, and much more opportunity for part-time/flexible hours.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Not so during my education, but I continue to network with women in my profession. It has been very fulfilling, in that it provides lots of support and a counter to the "old boys network" that has historically dominated my field.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Go for it!
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
MS
Last year in which you received formal education:
1981
Alma Mater:
Smith College, U of New Hampshire


Submitted August 25, 2003, 11:16 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
I remember being encouraged more than discouraged. My father was working as a laboratory technologist and working toward a Master's in biology when I was young and I thought science would be an exciting thing to do when I grew up. My parents were always supportive of my academic interests and I did well in school, so most of the time I got additional support from my teachers. I did not always get the recognition in school that I think I deserved, but I tried not to let that discourage me.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I received a lot of support from my college professors to pursue graduate school or a career in the sciences. I was a geology major and I think my professors expected their students to love science and want to pursue a career in science. I wish I had received more career counseling and networking skills while I was in college, though.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I encountered quite a few women scientists while I was attending college. Roughly 50% of my professors were female and I considered them all role models, even if I didn't like them or their teaching style. I really admired the passion my professors had for science and the I was truly inspired by their accomplishments. I was also inspired by my classmates, particularly those who had chosen to begin or return to college later in life. I did not take any classes on the history of women in science, however, I did learn about the accomplishments of women in science. For the most part, my classes were very balanced in their coverage of both male and female scientists.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
While I was still in school I held internships, the first was at an environmental consulting firm and the second was at a natural history museum in the vertebrate fossil preparation lab. Since graduation I've worked as a seismologist for a consulting company, which involved monitoring vibration from ongoing construction and quarrying; and currently I'm still in the consulting field, but working as an environmental scientist. My work environment has only encouraged me to pursue my career in the sense that it makes me want to go to graduate school. Entry level science outside some fields of medicine and engineering is pretty low paying work and often not as interesting or enjoyable as I feel it could be. Additionally, I have found that women in high level science positions are still few and far between at most companies.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
I don't think I've ever felt that I didn't have access to the same opportunities as my male colleagues, however I have felt that sometimes my male colleagues have an easier time earning clients' trust and respect in the science and construction fields. I have also felt that my male colleages often have an easier time being aggressive about getting what they want or expressing their opinion.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
I haven't felt too much of a demand to raise a family yet but I have noticed that some of my colleagues have felt they have to put their careers on hold to meet the demands of raising children.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I prefer to work individually on projects but still be able to consult with my colleagues and have their input.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
I haven't seen a real change in my career opportunities, however, I'm more optimistic about my future now than ever. I know that I at least have options to return to school or advance in my career over time, or change careers if I choose to.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Networks are always very important. I think knowing a woman scientist is very influencial and encouraging to a young girl. Having role models is very important also in high school. I think the most critical time for networking is in college and beyond, though. Having an "in" always helps when you're applying to colleges or applying for a job, and having an encouraging support network is crucial to success.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Don't be afraid to pursue your dreams, even when other people try to discourage you. You'll only get as much as you're willing to ask for.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Name
Jamie Patterson
Highest level of education attained:
BA
Last year in which you received formal education:
2001
Alma Mater:
Smith College


Submitted August 24, 2003, 8:08 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Only by my elementary math teacher who supported and encouraged my abilities. No support before or after that
When i told my father that I would like to work in his business, he said I couldn't because I was a girl.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I did recieve support from my programming/computer professor at Greenfield Community College (MA) Again, not before or after that.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
not at all. I did however read on my own about scientists, both male and female.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I worked for many years as a Printed Circuit Designer (64 through 79) and did not experience much discrimination, mostly due to the fact that I worked as a Jobber (i.e. temporary) When I attempted to get into the company fulltime (DEC) and become trained in computer design, I was rejected, only the men were picked for training.
After graduating from Smith in '84, I was unable to obtain any employment in my field, until I removed Smith from my resume.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
see above. Working for Digital Corporation in Maynard Mass, became aware of extensive discriminations against women designers for permanent positions.
I never, however, had any problem being hired for temporary jobs where the pay rate was almost twice that of permanent employees.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
not at all
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I prefer to work independently with or without support of a team. It is however not difficult for me to work in a team.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Actually, I think that there is more discrimination today than there was in the 60s and 70s. there were many women designers during my design years. There are not many Printed circuit designers of high intensity (i.e. motherboards) designs.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
not at all. There has never been any networking available, including through Smith. There just wasn't that many women in computers in the 80s, so even though I tried to network through the career center at Smith, i did not have any luck.
That might have changed now?!
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
do locate networking possibilities. they were not available in my design days. I would like to find networking possibilities now that I work with other aspects of computers. Now I install, repair hard ware, software, networking etc.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Name
Lisi Hoff
Highest level of education attained:
17 years+
Last year in which you received formal education:
1995
Alma Mater:
GCC, Smith
Affiliation:
none


Submitted July 12, 2003, 11:22 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
No, I wasn't encouraged to pursue a career in sciences. The subject actually never came up.
I managed to pass chemistry in high school (Boston Girls' Latin) but never felt a calling or affinity to sciences. Had a terrible time in algebra in high school though I did well in geometry.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
At Smith, I took astronomy because I had to take a science class and felt it was the one that involved the least amount of math! I got an A in it and liked it tremendously but felt I could never go far in it because I was so poor in math. The professor I had, and I'm sorry to say I can't remember her name, was wonderful because she knew several of us were taking the class for the same reason I was and she let us take open-book exams when there was a lot of math involved!
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
No. Everything I studied or was involved in (except for that one class in astronomy) was literature and art.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
After Smith, I had a clerk-typist job in Boston, then went to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Seattle. While I was there, I got a job at Boeing where my brother was working, again as a clerk-typist and because I was so bored with it, my brother suggested I sign up for the Boeing Drafting Class. I had no idea what drafting was but I went for it, was accepted and did well in the class and worked for Boeing about six months before going back to Boston. I worked in drafting there for and architectural firm but about a year later, came back to go the University of Washington to study architecture. A year later, I quit to get married and did not work again until my youngest daughter was in high school. I then worked for a land surveyor, taking care of the office and doing the drafting generated by the field work. I also ended up doing field work and learning a lot about civil engineering which was very helpful when I had to look for a regular job a few years later.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
Ever since I started working in the engineering field in 1952, I realized it was easier working with men than with women even though there are of course difficulties working with anyone. I have never felt discriminated against in my field (drafting), never got the impression that I couldn't do the work because I was a woman.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Even though I didn't have an outside job while I was raising my daughters, I always felt that if I had needed to go to work, I could have found work in drafting since it's used in so many fields. That was a very reassuring feeling.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
Drafting is a solitary job but it also has to be done within a team: I work for a big firm and though I do the civil drawings while someone else does the structural drawings, eventually all the drawings have to come together and look the same. So, I have no choice but to work by myself on individual drawings and to work as a team with the other drafters to produce a cohesive whole.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Looking at the number of young women engineers in my office, I have to think that there are more opportunities for women at this time.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Unfortunately, I didn't have any contact that I can recall with women scientists or engineers during my school career.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
I would tell them to go and do whatever they were drawn to. It's better to try and find out you can't do it than not try at all.
I've often wished I'd studied to become a land surveyor because I really liked the little bit I was involved in (actual field work as well as in-house drawings) but I didn't think I could do the math. I later realized that the older I got, the better in math I got so maybe I could have done it...
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Name
Annette Brigham
Highest level of education attained:
B.A.
Last year in which you received formal education:
1986
Alma Mater:
Smith College


Submitted June 27, 2003, 1:55 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes-encouraged by my father. Not discouraged by my mother, although not actively encouraged.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes. It was pretty much assumed that most of us majors would go on to further education or a job related to the major, and advice/information was given freely on how to facilitate this.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I wouldn't say I had female role models during college, other than all the students around me were female and also pursuing science.
No, did not take any classes on history of women in science & engineering.
Yes, I learned some about accomplishments of women scientists through exhibits at the college and articles in alumnae magazine.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
Being female probably contributed to my being hired by some companies trying to fill gender quotas. However, once on staff for some consulting clients, there were occasions when certain clients specifically requested that women not be assigned to a field project because they thought the field area was "too dangerous for women."
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
Yes. As mentioned above, I was on occasion excluded from potential job experiences definitely because I was female. In other jobs, I have seen male colleagues with the same or less education and experience as myself advanced into management positions while I was overlooked--I do not know for sure that gender was an issue, but I suspect it had something to do with it.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Yes. Because I do not have a spouse or a family, I am more flexible to work longer hours, travel and to change jobs, move, and take new opportunities. However, for the same reason, I have also been expected never to miss a day of work or not want to travel/be away from home (I do not have the excuse of kids or husband to care for). I have experienced wives/ mothers (and husbands/fathers) being given special privileges I was not allowed because of these additional roles they have chosen.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have changed jobs on average every 2 -3 years, so have not worked with any one colleague for longer than that period. I prefer to work as a part of a small, interdisciplinary team where different training/experiences complement one another.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
The more experience I've gained in a particular business/industry, the more I've become "pigeon-holed" as being qualified only to work in that particular industry, despite continuing education in other fields and willingness to accept entry-level, pay-cut positions to learn new fields. This may be the case for men, also, although I've seen more men make career changes than women. The most frequent change I've seen women make is from technical professional to full-time stay-at-home mother--I have never seen a husband/father do this.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Not very important, if only because I have found women professionals to be poor networkers, at least with other women professionals. The majority of women I've worked with who were serious about their careers saw me as a threat, not a colleague, and had no interest in benefitting me. I've found the few female associations to which I've belonged disorganized and poorly attended. I suspect this is because women tend to value their home/personal life over their professional and do not want to invest the time after work hours in a professional organization when they instead might be at home tending to family.

I've found men to be much better at and serious about professional networking. I've found men to be less threatened by me and more likely to be valuable colleagues or even mentors, with a few glaring chauvinist exceptions. Fortunately, even though female, I have benefitted from (gotten jobs through) membership in primarily male professional associations, which have been very welcoming.


10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
If you intend to get a job as a technical (applied science, engineering) professional, go to a strong technical school/degree program, not a liberal arts program. As much as I enjoyed and learned from my liberal arts undergraduate degree, I had a very tough time getting my first job in a related field (it took me 3+ years of rejections and 1 year of grad school)--potential employers did not think I was prepared to work in a technical field with a liberal arts degree (I was and I don't agree with them, but they're the ones hiring and paying). Although I feel my M.S. is much overrated, the "S" part is valued by potential employers much more so than my BA. Also, don't be shy about joining primarily male professional associations--I have found them friendly and helpful for networking, both in finding new jobs and in marketing for new work.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
Yes
Highest level of education attained:
M.S.
Last year in which you received formal education:
1990
Alma Mater:
Smith College (BA 1985), Univ. North Carolina Chapel Hill (MS 1990)
Affiliation:
very small consulting company


Submitted June 5, 2003, 11:22 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
My parents always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. This was a very liberating concept. I have always had an interest in science, especially the biological sciences. I've also had a natural propensity towards taking care of others, first and frequently exhibited by playing "orphanage" and "surviving a disaster" with my dolls.

My father is a veterinarian, and he gave me the opportunity to work with him during high school and college. Working in his office allowed me to experience medicine, and I found that I loved it. He also put me in touch with a friend of his, a woman family practitioner, whom I shadowed for a while. I found that I loved both veterinary and human medicine. These experiences were pivotal in my decision to go into medicine.

Additionally, I had an aunt who was a scientist at a time when very few women went into science. She was a professor of entomology beginning in the 1920's. When she retired in the 1960's, she came to live near our family and I spent time with her, catching grasshoppers for her continuing studies, looking through her microscopes, touring her collections, learning how to care for insects through science projects, etc. When I was applying to schools, she helped me by reviewing parts of my applications and commenting on them.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I was a biology major in college. I was at a women's college, so was encouraged to pursue whatever field interested me. I did not have one particular mentor in college.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
Yes. There were definitely role models among the professors with whom I took classes in college. I did not take any classes on the history of women in science - I do not believe there were any. I did learn about some women in science through the college - women who came to visit and give guest lectures, or whose accomplishments were highlighted in some way by the college.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I deliberately chose a medical school with a more liberal attitude towards women in medicine. I had been accepted at a number of universities with very old, traditional programs and a lower proportion of women students, but chose to go to a newer school with a larger proportion of women students. This school (Penn State) also had a program in humanities which appealed to me. I have never regretted this decision.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
There were definitely times during my training when it was clear to me that women students were not appreciated by certain individuals, but these individuals were rare.

I believe I chose a field of medicine which has traditionally had more women in it because this was where I felt most comfortable. I had the opportunity to experience all sorts of specialty areas during medical school, and although I enjoyed them all, and felt as though I could be happy doing any one of them, certain specialties came at a higher cost. The higher cost to me is the stress imposed by dealing with certain personality characterisitics of those who go into these fields, the degree of malpractice risk inherent in that specialty area, the pyramid system of training which eliminates trainees each year, leading to a real sense of competition instead of cooperation among trainees, as well as the longer hours in certain fields. These specialties tend to be higher paying and less amenable to the demands of raising a family.

So, although there was no one saying to me that I should not go into these fields, I could see that these field did not fit my personality, my life plan, my world view as well as the field that I did choose. As a result, I am in an area of medicine, pediatrics, which is relatively poorly paid and less respected among medical colleagues. However, I love what I do, I love the people I work with, and I believe in pediatrics and feel as though it is my calling. I am able to work part time and enjoy other aspects of my life, at a price.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Absolutely. I have chosen to work part time in order to spend time with our child because I value that time with him. As a result, I am off the academic track I had been on prior to adopting our son. Although I still see patients and teach pediatrics, I do not do research nor am I able to participate in many administrative and departmental activities. At times I feel like a second class citizen, but overall I am happy with that choice.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have worked with the same colleages for the last twelve years, except for a 2 year hiatus when our family moved away from the area. I chose to return to the same group. I prefer to work as part of a team.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
My opportunities have decreased because of my conscious choice to work part time.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I think this was critical during my formative years as a child to know that I could aspire to this career. Then it helpful along the way during my later education to see women already doing what I was training to do.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Do what you love to do, whatever it is. Doing something because somebody else wants you to do it won't work. Find your passion and go for it. Your passion will sustain you.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
M.D.
Last year in which you received formal education:
1983
Alma Mater:
Smith College, A.B. Penn State, M.D.
Affiliation:
Fletcher Allen Health Care


Submitted May 16, 2003, 12:59 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. I was told how important mathematical, physical, and natural sciences are today and how their importance to society is only going to grow. Getting into one of these fields was seen as sensible by my family, teacher, and professors. That said, when I ran into difficulties in higher level math (second semester calculus, to be precise) my father told me that nobody in our family had ever been good at math, that it might be beyond my capabilities, and that he would not be disappointed if I quit. I now have a B.A. in math and a B.A. in computer science from Smith College.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I entered college thinking I would study math and was given a pre major advisor in the computer science department. He suggested I take some computer science classes since people who liked math usually liked computer science. I did, and I ended up majoring in both.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I had one female math professor and one female computer science professor whom I considered role models. Although I did not take any classes about the history of women in science or engineering, these professors would bring up the subject from time to time in class. Not only the history of women, but also the challenges we still face today.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I am now a software engineer and feel I've been encouraged in the same way as the men I've worked with.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
A lot of men in software engineering got their start at a very young age basically because of their desire to play computer games. They had to learn about graphics cards and processor speeds, and if their parents didn't have a lot of money then they also often learned how to build a machine from parts so they could play games. Those who were introduced to computers at such a young age have an advantage over those of us who started when we were 18. The problem here is not so much a lack of access to resources for women, as my female peers and I had the same access to games as our male peers did, but more a problem of lack of intrest. The game industry still doesn't make games that attract girls, so girls still aren't learning as much about computers at a young age as the boys are.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
I don't have a family yet, but I can't see myself raising children and working the kind of hours that i work now. I haven't seen any women be penalized for having children, but they are all still working 60+ hours/week.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I prefer to work on a team.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
I've only been out of college for 3 years, and I have not seen any change in that time.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I went to a women's college, so at the time my only network of engineers contained only women. In that sense, it was of great importance. In the three years I've been out of college, I've had a mixed gender network. Of course, it is nice to have one more thing in common with the women in my network and I would miss that if it weren't available.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Don't give up. Barbie is right - math *is* hard. But it's hard for the boys too. Boys are probably less willing to admit to the difficulties they're having, but that doesn't mean it's actually harder for you than it is for them.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Name
Rebecca McFadd
Highest level of education attained:
B.A. Mathematic, B.A. Computer Science
Last year in which you received formal education:
2000
Alma Mater:
Smith College


Submitted April 17, 2003, 11:28 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. In 3rd-5th grades the three smartest kids in my class were girls and we wanted to be a physician, a vet and a teacher (me). Because the other girls wanted the sciences, I was encouraged to excel in them as well, despite having relatively weak math skills. In 8th grade I had a math "breakthrough" due to a dedicated teacher willing to teach the same material in different ways to match the learning styles of her students. Once that hurdle was crossed I was encouraged to expand on the success to round out my humanities centered world, both by my teachers and my parents. I took an advanced Earth Science class as a Freshman in HS and the teacher encouraged me to follow up on my interest in geology by inviting me to go on a field trip to the Grand Canyon with the Juniors and Seniors. I was not able to go, but it sparked an interest I followed up in college and led to my degree in Geology.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes. All the geology professors were very encouraging about women in the field. I was given wonderful opportunities to do hands on work through Smith College. I also woked for a summer at the University of Michigan on a graduate student's research team. The professor there was less directly involved with my development, but was definately supportive of my continuing in the sciences, especially in the areas of research and publication.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
We only had one female geology professor and she taught the lower level courses. This did not lead me to the conclusion that women could not teach upper level classes. My core prfessors, though male, served as great mentors and role models of the teacher I still hoped to become. All were excellent educators. I never specifically studied women in any particular field, but also never felt any field was out of my reach just becuse I was not aware of women in that field. Sex has never entered my mind as a determining factor in any aspect of my career life.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I am a licensed land surveyor, a fairly rare accomplishment for a woman in Colorado. Everyone I have woked with has encouraged me to progress from trainee, to an official "Land Survey Intern" to "Licensed Land Surveyor".
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
The only negative was that I did not get to work in the field as a crew chief. Some might assume that was because I was female I was relegated to the office, but the truth is that I did not own a car and the company I started with did not provide company vehicles for the first several years I was there. By the time they did, I was an accomplished office surveyor generating too much income for the company at my desk to be "demoted" to a field position at 1/3 the pay and billing rate. In retrospect, I should have fought for that experience as part of my training and development, but at that time I still intended surveying to be a phase in my life that would finance my teaching certificate.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
It seems as if the men with children get more time to pursue their professional obligations. When they stay late, or go to meetings, their spouses are expected to watch their children. Because my husband owns his own very new restaurant I do not have that support. I have to hire a babysitter or trade babysitting with my boss to attend my professional meetings. My boss (a very strong woman) is a single mom who is very supportive of me. She knows I have to leave at a specific time to pick up the kids, and that if I need more time I will work morings instead of nights with the guys. She is also understanding when there is no extra time left, and gets others to pitch in, helps to shift a deadline, or whatever is needed to make the goals of the company work with raising a family.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
Small team, with individual accountablity and self-direction.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Yes. For the better. I work for a much larger company which provides many educational opportunities as well as a variety of advancement positions.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Netwroks were not at all important. Knowing a community of bright, interested women in college was inspiring.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Think of yourself as a person capable of reaching your goals. If you have the right skills and don't limit yourself, others won't either.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
College
Last year in which you received formal education:
1993
Alma Mater:
Smith College


Submitted March 21, 2003, 4:29 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes, I was. My father very much wanted me to get a PhD in a science, preferably chemistry. I was encouraged to take science classes, get good grades, and I went to computer camp in the summer.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
No, I received very little support for a career in the sciences. But then again, I was an English major, so I wasn't looking for support.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I very rarely encountered women in school who were doing what I ended up doing. But my career didn't exist when I was in college.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I worked as a writer for technology magazines and newspapers before accepting a job as a computer scientist. I took the job because it paid well and I was burnt out from writing. I was very rarely encouraged to look beyond my position by coworkers because I did not have a degree in computer science -- even though I knew as much about it as they did. Indeed, with the economic turndown, I have lost out on a number of jobs that went to less-skilled men. I recently went back to school.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
I was well aware of it from day one. But it came out of the closet when my boss told me, "I don't think anybody who hasn't got a CS degree should be writing code." Later, I found out that when he gave my resume to a potential employer, it was with a warning that I wasn't a real computer scientist.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
That has not been my experience. But I also am not raising a family and don't intend to. In general, I've found that people who want to raise a family make that a higher priority than working, anyway.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have worked at a number of jobs with mostly the same people for several years, but at many different companies.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Right now, there are no opportunities for pretty much anybody. Most of my colleagues are out of work, and there are no jobs in sight. In times like this, women and minorities always lose out.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I never had contact with them during college. But networking is very important for finding a job once you get beyond the first couple levels of experience.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Take as much math as you can early on. Keep learning new things. Look for ways to get more information. Actually, I would give this advice to boys, too.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
Bachelor's
Last year in which you received formal education:
2003
Alma Mater:
Smith College


Submitted March 21, 2003, 12:49 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. My father was an aeronautical engineer. Also, my high school physics teacher encouraged me to pursue an education in the sciences.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes, but it was implied, since I attended an all women's college. The college had a wide selection of science courses to take and offered engineering courses at a neighboring university.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I had one woman professor in Physics. She was very helpful, but I would not call her a role model. History classes on women in engineering and science were not available, and in the one course I took in the history of science women were not really discussed. Interesting for a woman's college.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I have seen a lot of change over the 16 years at my job. When I first started, there was not a lot of support. I was origninally in the electrical engineering group. However, after some discrimmination and seeing a lack of opportunity in my group, I transferred to software engineering. In this discipline I have seen more women and much more acceptance. Overall, I have found that in the more traditional areas of engineering, electrical, mechanical, and aeromechanical there are still very few women.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
When I started working at my position and found that I was not to go down to the assembly line. Also, there was a lead engineer who would not have women or blacks work for him. This was 15 years ago, and things have changed at my company, but I would say that the changes started about 5 years ago. At the time of the discrimination by the lead engineer, my philosophy was that the person would retire soon and I would not change his view. As younger men have assumed leading roles, discrimination has lessened.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Yes. I am experiencing this now. Both my husband and I work at the same company. However, I am the one who has gone "part-time" and had to turn down opportunities to advance. Most of these decisions have come from our family values, but although my decisions have been respected at work I feel that my future has been damaged.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I am a much better team player than individual worker.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
They have changed. I have more opportunity to advance than I would have had before. However, there is a caution when women do advance - is it because they are truely qualified, or is it to be seen as a diverse company?
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I have not utilized networking. However, I think that it can be very useful, and more woman scientists/engineers need to expose grammer/high school students to the opportunities.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
Please do not feel that you have to avoid science in high school. Being smart will make you popular, and you can be smart without intimidating boys. So many girls don't take science because they don't want to appear dominant to boys. Our culture needs to erase this.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
BA (masters in education - May 2003)
Last year in which you received formal education:
2003
Alma Mater:
Smith College
Affiliation:
sikorsky aircraft


Submitted March 18, 2003, 4:32 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. As a young girl I was encouraged to attend a day camp devoted to marine science. I lived in a town that had several scientific campuses that were significantly larger in the summer. As I grew older, my high school did not seem to favor boys over girls in the sciences, but that may have been because many of the students were so adept at the sciences because their parents worked in the local labs.

It was not until later in life that my parents questioned my career choice- they did not seem to understand at first why science and engineering appealed to me. On my motherís side of the family, the men were engineers and lawyers, the women were housewives. Once my parents realized that I was going to study math, the only job they expected me to have after graduation was a teacher. I did teach math for one year after college but then decided that I wanted to go to graduate school in either the history of science or environmental engineering.

When I got in to graduate school I called my grandmother to tell her -since her husband and her sons had all been engineers. She asked why I was calling, did I expect her to pay for graduate school? No, I replied, "I was just hoping that you would be happy for me given the other engineers in my family." But then I asked her about one of my cousins, he was in his second year of law school at that point and we all knew that she was paying his tuition. She said that he needed that level of education to support a wife and family some day, whereas why should she help me with an education that I was just going to use for a few years and then stop when I had a family. I felt that she thought that I was going to graduate school on a whim, for "fun" until I decided to settle down.

2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes, most of my professors were very supportive. There was only one who seemed to hold her students to a higher standard (she had just come out of the peace corps) and if she felt that you did not have what it took, she gave you a very hard time (for example, she once said to the class "If you do not understand the problems in class, donít waste my time coming to office hours"). I failed her course and retook the same class from a different professor the following semester and received an A-.

I had another professor who taught us to "think outside of the box" years before that was an acceptable concept. He was always challenging us to take risks in our problem solving.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I had a professor who I consider to be a role model and a mentor to this day. I took History of Science classes from her and she always emphasized women in science in her class. I still touch base with her every few years to tell her of my career choices.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
When I was an undergrad, there was no engineering program at my collge. I majored in math and minored in the history of science. After college I taught high school level math for a year before moving to Boston to explore the idea of going to graduate school. While temping and working a switchboard, I was fortunate enough to land a job with a management consultant whose specialty was renewable energy. Over the next few years, I focused my interest in environmental sciences and chose a graduate Masters program in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis on management and policy. My boss was very supportive as he had an Environmental Management degree from another university.

After a few years, I changed jobs and worked for a small non-profit environmental education organization. They were also supportive of my graduate school work since it tied into their systems thinking approach to environmental issues. After recieving my Masters, I moved out of state and found a job with a small environmental engineering firm (in a liberal college town) and after a year, took a job working for a very progressive environmental department in county-level government. I believe that it was so forward in its efforts due in large part to the head of the Department, a woman whose background was in environmental health issues. She was extremely supportive and encouraged me to take on any project that interested me.

Upon my return to my home state, I found another job, as an environmental analyst in State government, but budget cuts caused me to be laid off. I feel confident that I was not laid off because of my gender, but because I was one of the last people in the door. I recently accepted a new job at an environmental non-profit Ė the benefits include tuition reimbursement and other career supportive advantages.

5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
I had to go to graduate school part-time since I did not have the financial resources to go full time. In many of my engineering classes there were men who worked for large engineering firms and their companies were paying their full tuition. I did not meet any women in my program who had the same "free-ride" deal. Most of the women in my program were either part time like me or had taken out big loans and time off from working to go to graduate school. In many cases, it was because they did not seem to be able to achieve the "next step" that they wanted in their jobs unless they had further education. I had some assistance from one employer, but it was certainly not more than a small percentage of the total cost.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Many women I know put off starting a family until they finished graduate school and had become firmly established in their jobs- till they had the job security to start a family. We have never discussed if their family needs have affected the type of work they do.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I mostly prefer to work individually, but when I work in a team, I seem to enjoy working with women more.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
I believe that more opportunities exist now for me than when I first got out of graduate school. Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy did not make as many of them viable options.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I do not belong to any formal network for women in science. Many of my women friends now are involved in the sciences and it was that virtual network that enabled me to find my most recent job.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
I did not decide to do this for money, I chose environmental engineering and management because I wanted to make a difference in the world we live in - for our childrenís children.

You have to do what you love, because when you encounter prejudice or glass ceilings or old-boys networks, your conviction and devotion for your specific area of discipline will help you get through it better than anything.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Highest level of education attained:
Masters
Last year in which you received formal education:
1996
Alma Mater:
Smith Collge


Submitted March 14, 2003, 9:30 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Neither encouraged nor discouraged, really. I certainly had teachers in high school that were supportive of my work in their classes, but I don't recall having them encourage me towards a career in science.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Well, I am an odd case since I was a history major, who found my true calling when I took a computer programming course as a junior. At that point, my Computer Science professors were supportive, but my major advisor (head of the history department) was a bit taken aback my my sudden enrollment in CS-related courses.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
I attended a women's college (Smith), and encountered many women faculty. I did not really see them as role models, particularly, but I'm not sure I really needed that. I did not take classes on history of women in science and engineering, but that was because I had so little time left in my academic career by the time I figured out that I was going to pursue CS.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I graduated with a degree in history. At that time, Smith did not offer minors, so although I took quite a few courses in CS and as much of the calculus series as I had time for, I did not have any formal degree in CS. Figuring I wouldn't have much luck getting a programming job, which is what I wanted, I applied for work as a technical writer, and was hired by a division of Schlumberger that made VLSIC test systems (Sentry Test Systems).

My manager there (a woman) was extremely encouraging, and supported me in my eventual transfer to an engineering support programmer role within Sentry.

After a couple of years, I leveraged that job, which had exposed me to some database programming, into a "real" programming job (in product development) at a firm called Integrated Automation that worked on system integration and custom development projects, generally for industrial applications. This was a great opportunity for me to be exposed to lots of different problems and technologies.

At IA, technical expertise was all that counted, as far as I could tell. Also, one of the most influential hardware designers was a woman, so she clearly helped establish the credibility of women engineers.

After 4 years IA was aquired by Lytton Industries and in the resulting shake-up, a number of people left to found start-ups. I joined one of them, Isys Controls as a member of a 3-person software team. The other two were men, as were the hardware and optical engineers.

At both Integrated Automation and Isys Controls, some of the men certainly held less-than-enlighted views about women in social situations (for example, the way they interacted with their own partners), but that did not seem to impact the way they dealt with me. I was taken on my own terms based on my intelligence and technical skills.

After several years at Isys, I became the manager of the software group (promoted over the two original male colleagues. I have continued to work at this company ever since. It was acquired by Cognex in 1995. Since the acquisition, my role has expanded to include responsibility outside software. My current position is senior director of engineering for my division. This includes software, hardware (electronics) and mechanical engineering, as well as technical documentation and customer service.

Cognex is a Massachusetts-based company, and I definitely see differences in the level of sexism in the MA-based male upper-level managers and upper-level managers I have dealt with in California. In general, the MA senior managers seem to be at least 10 years behind in their general outlook on women, as well as on other diversity issues (they all seem to be way more homophobic than anybody I ever meet in the Bay Area). In spite of this, their VP of engineering is a woman. She too was a member of their original start-up team.


5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
On the contrary, I think that by nature or training, I set out with the idea that I deserved the same opportunities as anybody, and that is what I found. To some extent, I think that it was a result of my deep-seated belief that I was not going to experience sexism that made it true. This would not have worked as well years earlier, I'm sure. I graduated from Smith in 1984. One great thing about attending a women's college is that for sure you end up with a strong sense of entitlement. You have just had several years of positive reinforcement of the idea that women can do anything, so you go out into the "real world" with that in your mind.

I think ended up in management because I was willing to worry about the bigger picture, and to take responsibility for stuff that needed doing, even if it wasn't really "my job". At least among my staff, management is not really a desired goal for most, who prefer to be individual contributors and deal with "clean" technology-related problems rather than messy people-related problems. Even though I didn't really want to do this extra stuff either, I was unwilling to just blow it off if it needed doing.

6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
For sure, in the world of computers, long hours are the norm. Especially in a start-up environment, you would have a very difficult time surviving in a start-up if you had time-consuming family responsibilities. In a more well-established company, there is more room for flexibility. I have not had children. If I had, it would definitely have affected my career. It is hard to say how difficult it would have been to get back onto a growth track if I had slowed down to have children.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have been with my current company since 1990, and there are several members of my current staff that have been here all along as well. I enjoy both individual work and team work. In my role as a manager, clearly I spend lots of time in a team environment. It took me several years to figure out how to feel good about management, as opposed to direct technical contribution, but now I do enjoy that as well as "real" technical work.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
I have seen a very steady progression in my own career opportunities since graduating college. I would say that in general, at least in the Bay Area, overt sexism is not a factor in most high technology companies that I have had exposure to. Most of my women colleagues and friends that are my age (early 40s) or younger seem to have prospered by following the path paved for them by the previous generation of feminists. This path was not necessarily well paved in every specific technical field or company, but caused a general societal change in outlook which made it ludicrous for any thinking person to say that a woman can't do X or Y, since women are doing X and Y somewhere else already.

9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Networks of women scientists or engineers, per se, have not been important, but networks of women in general certainly have. I got my first and second jobs both through Smith-connections.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
It is a great time to be a woman in these fields, especially compared to 30 or 40 years ago. Establish a high standard of performance and professionalism for yourself, and expect it in others. If you go out there with the absolute belief that you will be treated fairly and rewarded based on your performance, chances are you will be.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
yes
Name
Sherrill Lavagnino
Highest level of education attained:
BS
Last year in which you received formal education:
1984
Alma Mater:
Smith
Affiliation:
Smith College Alumnae Assoc.


Submitted March 5, 2003, 10:52 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. My father was a biomedical tech, and my mother is a registered nurse. Both my parents encouraged me to pursue subjects in school that they considered "practical" and that would lead unambiguously to a career of any type. My father had (what I look back on as) a bias against the arts and humanities because (I think) it was not immediately obvious to him what a person with a major in a humanties would do for a living. Therefore, it is no surprise that my sister and I have degrees in accounting and engineering (respectively).
In addition, I was encouraged by my teachers in school. It is important to note that I graduated from a science and math magnet school, in Durham, NC, in 1991. My 9th and 10th grade math teachers (women) encouraged me to apply to the NC Sch. of Sci/Math and my 8th grade algebra teacher (man)and 10th grade chemistry teacher (woman) wrote recommendations for me. The entire student body at the NC Sch. of Sci/Math was encouraged to pursue careers in science, technology, medicine, etc., and the student body was 50/50 girl/boy.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I attended a womens' college, so it goes without saying that I had the support of the entire physics department. The department had funding for summer internships, so I got to work for the department for 3 summers. It was great.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
My advisor at Smith is a woman, and the chair of the department at the time (it rotates) was a woman. During the summer, Smith sponsored talks with women scientists and engineers.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
I am on my second job out of grad school. My first job was building prototype imaging systems for the military and other goverment agencies, and I also performed materials research. I currently work in a telelcom manufacturing plant. I have never been discouraged from continuing on in my career. In fact, at my current job, I was made a supervisor of a small team of techs to facilitate failure analysis. My company tries to foster the growth and development of all its employees. And, it does diversity audits!
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
I have had relatively few experiences with sexism in the sciences and engineering. My first one was while applying to grad school. The chair of the admissions committee at UNC -Chapel Hill asked the chair of the physics dept at Smith how she thought I would perform in a co-ed environment, having come from a women's college. To contrast, a male professor on the admissions committee at the University of Michigan actively pursued women applicants and funding for women and minorities. I went to Michigan.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
I do not have, nor do I want to have, children. I spend 13 hours away from home every day, getting to and from work and being at work. I can barely take care of my cat. I don't think you can have it all; at some point, one has to choose between the career and the kid. I have chosen my career.
I know women that have made career changes in response to child care issues. I don't think this is an issue for scientists and engineers, but for the society as a whole. Raising children is very difficult in this country, and you get no help from anyone. The women's movement failed us because it convinced us that we could have it all. In some northern European countries, women get a year of paid maternity leave, and then their husbands can take the next year of paid leave. They then get subsidies for child care. And, they have national health care and 5-6 weeks vacation, and college is so much cheaper, etc. All this makes it easier to have children, and to spend time with them.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have worked mostly as a team. My first job, building prototype imaging systems and doing materials research, required working with a lot of other engineers, techs, and vendors. My current job is in manufacturing, and I work with people from all departments. I like it.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Opportunities in general have evaporated, thanks to the downturn in telecom. As a women, I see no difference.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Networking (in general) was very useful when applying to graduate school. Coming from a small liberal arts college with a Bachelor of Arts in Physics, I was at a disadvantage compared to applicants coming from larger schools with a BS. One of my professors knew someone at each of the grad schools where I was accepted.
In additon, I got my current job through a (male) grad school colleague who worked at the same company.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
I would give this advice to both men and women applying to grad school. Find out the attrition rate of the schools where you are applying, and ask specific questions about how many students enter the masters program intending to get the PhD and how many end up passing their quals. Also, do not be afraid to take undergrad classes in grad school (that you have not had yet) if you feel it is necessary. A lot of professors will poo-poo the idea, but do not listen to them.
Also, I would suggest getting a broad-based liberal arts undergraduate education and concentraing on the science/tech in grad school. You will never have that much time again to study other subjects. While I was an undergrad, I spent a semester in Spain and I minored in political science. My BA did not hamper my ability to get a masters degree or a good job, and I wouldn't trade my undergrad experience for anything.
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masters electrical engineering
Name
Amy Raudenbush
Highest level of education attained:
1997
Last year in which you received formal education:
Smith College (BA), U of Mich, Ann Arbor (MS)


Submitted March 3, 2003, 10:22 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
I was encouraged to pursue a "professional" field as a career. I was not specifically encouraged to pursue a career in the sciences, nor was I discouraged. I was encouraged to pursue a career in medicine as my family has many members in that field.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
I don't recall any specific encouragement while in college to continue to pursue a career in sciences. However I was not always the most motivated student during my undergraduate years.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
As an undergraduate student I attended a lecture about the role of women in science and read some books on the subject. I continue to read articles in Journals on the role of women in science. However I never developed a close relationship with a woman scientist/engineer and therefore I never had a woman scientist/engineer as a role model.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
After completing my undergraduate degree in Biology I worked in research laboratories where I became increasingly interested in the instrumentation and technology used in the lab. I decided that I wanted to learn more about the engineering behind the instrumentation and began taking engineering courses while working. I was lucky to have a boss who encouraged me to do this. Eventually I decided to attend BU full time to obtain my Masters in Biomedical Engineering and after interviewing for different positions actually returned to work for my boss who had encouraged me to pursue coursework in engineering. In fact I still work for him today, we've worked together for over 14 years now.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
I've taken a different career path then others. I don't work for a large company or institution so my oppurtunities to advance have been limited due to nature of our very small (2-5 people) company. However I have had tremendous opportunites to learn about new technologies and to interact with smart and interested people. Because our company is so small I have no way of knowing if a male would have had different opportunities than I have had. I have in the past dealt with people who assumed that my background was not technical and have had to "prove" myself to some people. However most people in the field now know me and respect my knowledge.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
YES! Of course raising family has meant compromises. Life is full of compromises and being able to raise a family the way I want to is part of the reason I have continued to work with the same company. My boss has always valued me and my contributions to the company and has made it clear that he is flexible about my schedule.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
I have know my boss for over 20 years and I worked with him for over 14 years. I have not had a lot of opportunities to work as part of a team so it is hard for me to comment on this. However in graduate school I did frequently seek out other students to work with. I currently do a lot of work independently.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
In general I think the opportunities for a woman in science are better than they were 20 years ago. There is definitely less overt discrimination based on sex. Fewer people seemed "surprised" that I'm a woman in engineering than they used to be.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
I didn't seek out nor do I recall any networks of women scientists during my education. In engineering school there just weren't many women professors. I did find the network of fellow graduate female engineering students very supportive and useful.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
I frequently ignored the advice given to me by professors (all male) in engineering school because it didn't feel "right" to me and I believe I did the right thing. I think it's important to know yourself and appreciate your strengths and to follow the path you feel is best!
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Master of Science
Name
Nancy G. Perlmutter
Highest level of education attained:
1991
Last year in which you received formal education:
Smith College, A.B.; Boston University, M.S.
Alma Mater:
Howard M. Shapiro, MD, PC


Submitted February 24, 2003, 5:34 PM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Yes. My mom was always very ecouraging as were many of my high school teachers. I attended a math and science magnet school where only 20% of the student body were women. I had a research job at the University of TX Health Science Center working for a female PhD (microbiologist) who had an entire lab of women, who were always very encouraging as well.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
Yes, I studied at an all-women's college, so I only competed against other women and we had both male and female professors who were supportive if you had the skills to make it--and were probably helpful if you didn't.
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
Yes, I encountered a woman professor in the math department whom I still stay in touch with and is continually encouraging me to try new things. I never took any classes on the history of women in science or engineering and don't know much about accomplishments of women aside from what I have read.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
My current work environment is very encouraging and always pushing me to be the best. I work in an all male office, and aside from the last boss we had have never had any problems. I'm taken to meetings to meet other people higher in the food chain, exposed to new experiences and always pushed to do my best.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
No.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
No. I am married to a very supportive husband who picks up a lot of the slack around the house and we have a great schedule worked out for dinner and a housekeeper. I'm sure it would be different if we had children but we don't currently.
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
Yes. I prefer to work with 1-2 other people on projects, male or female, as long as they know what is going on and aren't afraid to make decisions.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
I think the opportunites have changed for the better, and we are seeing a shift towards more and more women graduating with BAs/BSs and then moving onto graduate school. Slowly the men are having to realize that we can hold our own and one day they may very well be working for a female.
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
Extremely. Its important to have a network or support system at all times in the education process and hopefully people can find a mentor or two to hang onto for life. Male or female, both are important to promote interests in sciences and engineering.
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
If its what you want then go for it! Be focused, develop a strong sense of self and don't be afraid to speak up. When I sit at a conference table I have no problem speaking up and giving my opinion--just remember to keep your tact though, because these people can hurt or help you, but mostly I've found everyone to be very encouraging and helpful.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
some MS
Highest level of education attained:
2000
Last year in which you received formal education:
Smith College
Alma Mater:
US Gov't


Submitted February 20, 2003, 5:13 AM

1. Were you encouraged, as a girl, to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the nature of the encouragement / discouragement.
Only moderately. My interests at the time were mathematics.
One high school math teacher was very encouraging. Others
at least did not discourage.
2. Did you receive any support from your college professors to pursue a career in the sciences or applied sciences? Whether you answer yes or no, please elaborate on the type of support (or lack thereof).
My college professors were very supportive (it was also clear
to them that I was both telented and interested)
3. When you attended college/university, did you encounter woman scientists and/or engineers whom you considered role models? Did you take any classes on the history of women in science and engineering? Did you learn about the accomplishments of women scientists/engineers?
Not very many, although there were some female instructors.


No classes at all on history of science (much less specialized for women)
of course everyone heard of Marie Curie and Emmy Noether.

By the way my major was physics. The engineering part came much later.
4. Please describe your career experiences as a woman scientist, engineer, science educator, or scientist/engineer in training since completing your bachelor\'s degree. Did your work environment fully encourage you to pursue your career?
Experieinces probably not much different from those of men in
similar positions. It was hard to find suitable positions for
both sexes. However, being a woman did not help.
5. Was there a particular event or period in your career when you realized that you did not have access to the same opportunities as your male colleagues? If so, please describe. If not, please describe the experiences which have led you to feel that your career has not been hampered in this way.
Toward the end of my first post-doc, when I was looking for a
next job. At the APS job-bazaar (I don' know if this exists anymore)
I was told by a number of interviewers, that they were not interested in female
applicants. However, I received a few positive responses also.
6. In your experience, did it seem that the demand of raising a family, either by you or by colleagues, affect the type of work that you do?
Not applicable - (no family)
7. Have you worked with a colleague or a limited amount of partners over a long time? How do you prefer to work, individually or as a team?
Not really. I have acceptance problems.
8. Have your opportunities as a woman scientist or engineer changed over time? If so, was the change for better or worse?
Things have gotten better since 1970-1975, which was the critical time for me
9. How important were networks of women scientists or engineers during the various stages of your education and career (e.g. grammar school, high school, college, graduate school)?
not very
10. What advice would you provide to young women considering a career in the sciences or applied sciences?
If you are really interested, go for it.
Check out your skills. One does have to be good.
Keep study broad and don't specialize too much, too soon.
In addition to saving your story to the archive, may we post it to the web? (yes/no)
PhD
Name
Edith Borie
Highest level of education attained:
1968
Last year in which you received formal education:
Smith College, Univ. North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Alma Mater:
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe


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