As discussed with Kamana Misra PhD, Founding Editor AWISNJ Articles
In your professional life, being a female has been an advantage or a disadvantage?
Advantage: Women support other women and are there for you as mentors.
Disadvantage: Often I am the only woman in the room and sometimes that means I have to know that I may be the only person to have my perspective- I’ve learned to realize that that is okay and I still need to speak up and provide my thoughts.
Despite the current focus on a more inclusive STEM landscape, the world economic forum 2016 global gender gap report predicts it will take approximately 150 years to achieve gender equity in America. Do you think we can accelerate this process?
We absolutely can accelerate this process. Mentoring here is key and the younger we start the better. Information is also key. If we provide the next generation of female leaders with the right information and guidance we will continue to make greater strives in gender equity. If we also support more female elected officials and elected officials in general who support gender equity, policies will change faster and these policies will help increase the pace at which gender equity is realized.
What has been the role of mentoring in your professional life? Have females helped you more than males?
I have been lucky to have a lot of great mentors-both male and female. I think there are a lot of people out there willing to mentor but if you want their help, you need to ask. Start a conversation with them. A lot of mentoring happens organically. You don’t necessarily need a structured arrangement in place. I probably still speak to my first college internship mentor several times a year, enjoying both personal and professional time together.
Any message to the next generation of STEM professionals and the audience?
For those people who haven’t taken part in mentoring, please think about how you can donate your time. Providing your insight on a panel, taking on a formal mentoring relationship, speaking to high school students, I guarantee you have so much to offer. I also guarantee any time you donate will be given back to you ten fold in the gratification of the experience.