A few weeks ago, I was invited by True Blue Inclusion and Rackspace to join industry leaders for an afternoon in San Antonio. We gathered to discuss female representation in engineering. We plotted the steps needed to ensure that this vital field will continue to benefit from more experiences and more voices that are critical to the innovative imperative of technology.
As part of the discussion, we talked with a handful of Rackspace’s early career female engineers and senior engineering leaders. These women, from all over the world, told us what sparked their interest in engineering and what kept them in the field. They shared their experiences of being encouraged and, in some cases, discouraged or even ridiculed for pursuing engineering. Each ultimately had someone – a family member, a professor, a mentor that believed in their chosen path and their capability to excel and helped them believe in themselves.
The event was called Women in Engineering: Building the Blueprint Forum. It is the second of five planned roundtables for The Great Idea Hunt – a partnership between businesses and educators that will continue through 2016. The ultimate goal is getting more women involved in engineering. Out of recent efforts to improve female representation in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), only engineering is seeing no movement.
What I love about this idea is that it isn’t a bunch of people sitting around bemoaning the state of things. Instead, educators and corporate stakeholders alike are working together to develop a framework for action – not just discussion.
Discussion is always important. However, we can talk ourselves in circles without actually committing to any action – especially when it comes to big challenges. Diversity in engineering, or team member engagement in your organization, or even your own personal goals and aspirations, can be all talk and no action.
Turning discussion into action can be challenging, but there are concrete steps you can take – steps that The Great Idea Hunt is demonstrating.
Have A Clear Goal
The Great Idea Hunt’s goal is to improve female representation in engineering. Your goal may be to integrate new members into your team more efficiently or to find a new job role. The important thing is that you know where you’re going. Tailor your discussions so they aren’t leading you all over the place.
Enlist People With The Power To Help
Once you’ve got your goal in mind, approach peers and mentors who you trust and who can help you achieve your goals. The Great Idea Hunt has partnered with some heavy hitters like Chevron, Intel, Texas A&M University, Estee Lauder, Rackspace, NetApp, Mattel and more to achieve their goals. Change happens much more quickly when you’ve got a powerful team in your corner.
Do Your Research
With a goal in mind and a team in your corner, the next step is to dig into what you need to know to make an informed decision. In the case of The Great Idea Hunt, they’re going straight to the source to see what engineering students think about the state of engineering. Your research may take the form of internally auditing yourself with a Hogan Leadership Assessment or weighing more external factors like the financial realities of what it will take to achieve your goal.
This one seems obvious, but it’s often the hardest for us to do. For a lot of people, dreaming is easier than doing. When you’re having a hard day, it’s nice to imagine what the future can be, without taking that important step toward actualizing it. After all the goal setting, discussion and research are done, only you can decide to make the leap. At the end of 2016, The Great Idea Hunt will launch the initiatives that they develop over the next few months. What will you do?