My advocacy for women in engineering and the boarder STEM fields has been through involvement in professional societies and outreach. I have a passion for working with and inspiring future engineers.
Through workshop leadership, I have influenced local and state-wide communities through pre-college outreach activities that promote the engineering profession. Since 2005, I have empowered over 500 young women to pursue STEM careers through participation and leadership in woman-only events such as It’s a Girl Thing Summer Camp, Summer Solutions Camp, Expanding Your Horizons Conferences, and Lockheed Martin Women In Engineering Day.
Starting in 2015, I hosted outreach activities with current and future K-12 educators in the local community to ensure they understand the research on what influences girls to choose engineering or any STEM discipline as a career, as well as that they have a powerful influence on girls’ career choices. I also joined the Rockingham County Public Schools STEM committee to educate technology teachers about inspiring and mentoring young women to consider STEM careers. My educator advocacy approach has been to go into college classrooms for education majors, attend STEM committee meetings, and offer a session at the Annual STEM Educators Workshop hosted by JMU. In all three venues, I share my personal journey into engineering to expose engineering stereotypes and public biases, discuss female role models, explain skills beyond math and science that engineers need, and what educators can do to encourage and empower more girls to consider STEM careers, which has allowed me to reach over 100 educators.
- Feature article on my efforts “Why Advocate: Partnering with Educators to Inspire the Future Generation of Engineers.” Society of Women Engineers All Together Newsletter, March 2016.
IEEE Women In Engineering Book:
I wrote a book on my personal journey into engineering for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA) called “Follow Your Curiosities: Finding Success through Learning” as part of the Women in Engineering (WiE) series. The book series not only celebrates personal journeys of perseverance, but also advocates for women in STEM by serving as a lasting resource of inspiration. This book has been given in print and digital form to over 800 pre-college and college aged women.
- Link to my IEEE WiE eBook and audio book (eBook free to IEEE members, audio book free to everyone)
I have been a member of professional societies and committees within those societies that advocate for women in STEM. Some highlights are listed below.
Within the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) I have held 13 different leadership positions as a professional, and three different leadership positions as a collegiate. I have made several contributions at the section, regional, and society levels since initial membership in 2001.
On the SWE Conference Advisory Board (CAB), I advocated for the collegiate members of the society during planning meetings for the annual society conference. I also worked as part of a team to create a toolkit to assist more SWE collegiate sections with securing funding to attend society and regional conferences.
I advocated for academic women as the chair of the SWE Women in Academia (WIA) committee. In this role, I led the WIA Committee to become a respected resource for the society, and strengthened the community of academics within SWE. I built a foundation for connecting industry to academia for mutual benefit, initiated a WIA mentoring program, and expanded society and regional professional development opportunities. As a result of my leadership, the WIA committee was re-chartered as a permanent committee, and I was selected to be the chair-elect and chair of the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC). During my time on the SPC I worked to change the climate for academics in SWE through providing SWE leadership with recommendations for better integration of the needs and perspectives of SWE academic members into the Society strategic plan, and to ensure that SWE’s benefits and value are inclusive of academics.
In multiple roles on the SWE Members-at-Large (MAL) Council, I advocated for MAL members within the society primarily through education and communications. I created a MAL website that explained the type of membership and created a toolkit to assist MAL leaders with communication, including etiquette, a timetable, and examples. Later on, I contributed as the newsletter editor and revitalized the newsletter to be digital device friendly.
I advocated for college aged women in engineering by assisting the JMU collegiate SWE MAL members to become a chartered section in in 2013. As the faculty advisor, I mentored the SWE collegiate section to become an exemplary student organization, a vital part of the JMU Department of Engineering, and to receive the SWE Outstanding New Collegiate Section Award in 2014 and 2015. The section continues to thrive.
Within ASME, I served on the Division of Engineering Design Broadening Participation Committee for six years. This committee impacts the international engineering design community through annual facilitation of workshops for underrepresented groups in engineering at the ASME IDETC/CIE. The workshops advocate for and help young faculty build skills that will prepare them for success in academia. I served as the chair for the 2014 workshop on mutual mentoring. Other past topics include: effective negotiation, effective technical presentations, overcoming impostor syndrome, managing your academic career like an entrepreneur.