The Power of Strong Role Models
“You’ve come a long way, baby.”
That became synonymous with the women’s movement of the 1960s. The origin was a cigarette ad campaign for Virgin Slims. Ads showed a slender, attractive woman in pants holding a more feminine cigarette – a symbol of women’s empowerment.
Growing up, I loved hanging out watching my dad and brothers tinker with bikes and cars.
I was never the tinkerer; I was the assistant handing the necessary tools for the task at hand.
In my mind, it was OK for me to like these things but not OK for me to do these things.
And honestly, I was OK with that. I didn’t know any better.
I recently attended an inspiring event put on by Social Venture Partners (SVP) Dallas at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
The Perot was the perfect setting for Culture Change: Women in Technology and Science.
The luncheon was sponsored by the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, the Texas Women’s Foundation, Wright Connatser PLLC, and Something Good Consulting Group.
Dr. Stephanie Adams, dean of the Erik Jonsson School, opened the program with a staggering statistic: Only 1% of engineering school deans are women.
Adams went on to say that role models are significantly more important to girls than to boys, and we need more women in engineering as role models.
Nicole Small of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and Linda Silver, CEO of Perot Museum, discussed their collaborations to improve the outlook for women and girls in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM).
Their collaborative work includes the IF/THEN Initiative.
IF/THEN reflects Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ commitment to fund advancements in science and nature by empowering innovators working in the field and encouraging the next generation.
The initiative is specifically aimed at young girls and stimulating an interest in STEM careers by:
1. Funding and elevating women in STEM as role models,
2. Organizing cross-sector partners in business and academia to highlight the importance of STEM everywhere,
3. And inspiring girls with better examples of women in STEM through media and learning to pique their interest in a STEM career.
IF/THEN uses a series of videos featuring women in STEM careers telling their stories and then has the girls spend time with them in their work.
Perhaps if I had a female role model in engineering I could be doing something completely different, but what I’m doing now isn’t so bad, and I’m OK with that.