Today, more than ever, we must work toward corporate health and oneness. Although my industry is categorized as Mass Communications, I get to hold the unique title of Chief Meteorologist. That makes me a scientist in my field, and therefore someone who is passionate about sharing my STEM story, encouraging others -- particularly young girls -- to pursue their STEM story, while also helping retain people, specifically women, in STEM and across all industries. And, when it comes to retaining women in STEM, I want to take it a step further: I work with organizations to increase the number of women in STEM leadership positions, because when girls see women at the head of the table in STEM careers, it provides even more inspiration.
Seeing more women in more leadership positions in STEM is one of my goals, but STEM industries are not the only ones that benefit from an increase in female input. In my opinion, any corporation that’s lacking women (or any minority group) is missing out on some of the most creative, organized and systematic minds. A woman brings flexibility and complimenting skill sets to teams and the leadership ladder.
My interest in this topic really deepened a few years ago, when I began looking at STEM statistics. At the same time, I looked around. I’d reached a point in my career where the few people who looked like me (women) were fleeing and getting jobs in other industries or leaving the workforce all together. Giving careful thought to both observations led me to ask two questions. Why are they leaving, and where are they going? At this point I had a revelation: I had to pivot from asking the questions to creating opportunities to lead the conversation and to design solutions.
I also began thinking about the concepts of equality and equity. While they sound similar, they are not the same thing. Equality is treating everyone the same; equity is much more. Equity is giving everyone the support and tools they need to be successful. It is rooted in respect and is foundational to fairness.
My firm belief in the positive power that gender diversity brings to any business or industry, my specific interest in the STEM industry and my desire to see true equity in the workplace motivated me to start offering my speaking services to others, and here we are.
Drawing from the peaks and valleys of my own career, I share personal stories of overcoming stereotypes. I shine a spotlight on why more women should be and how more women can be in STEM careers. I dig deeper into the difference between equity and equality and how both concepts don’t apply solely to women in the workplace.
To better understand how I approach all of these subjects, let me share a snapshot of how I got where I am today: Ever since I was little, I have loved space, the atmosphere, the sky. Some may say it's because my head was always in the clouds, but I like to think it was because it seemed so free up there. The many unknowns and mysteries floating up above always left me wanting to know more.
This curiosity and a love of science led me to Auburn University, where I earned an aerospace engineering degree. After a short trip west and two years later, I earned my master’s degree in geosciences with a concentration in broadcast and operational meteorology from Mississippi State University.
Next, I jumped headfirst into a career that I had worked hard for. I made only a few moves in my profession, still doing the job I loved, just in different cities with different titles. From weekend and morning meteorologist to Chief Meteorologist, I’ve done it all. As I grew as a meteorologist, I also grew in my personal life. I got married and had three beautiful children. As I worked to balance it all, I soon realized that many professions are hardwired with processes and procedures. And these set practices often pose challenges for working women, most notably becoming obstacles in their quest o strike a balance in their career and their other roles: wife, mother, friend. Women are burdened by what often feel like unequal expectations and feel unfairly bound by inflexible policies that are, many times, far more constricting for women than men. I’ve also learned that that this holds true for all women, not just women who are married or have children.
These experiences have made me stronger, more compassionate and more aware of what is necessary for a healthy workplace. Because I’m in a STEM profession, these things have also pushed me to become an advocate for women in STEM. As a young girl who loved science, I was just that: A young girl, who loved science. I worked like the rest of my peers. I graduated like my peers. I went on to college and got a job just like everyone else. Was I often the only female? Yep. Did I feel different at times? Of course. Did it ever stop me? No.
It is my hope that my journey and the things I’ve learned while navigating multiple road bumps and detours will motivate others to pursue their dreams and show them how to attain the healthy balance and equity they seek while also teaching them how to create the same healthy balance and equity for the people around them.