LIVE BLOG: Empowering Women Engineers event

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Follow along as Gaby Morera, an associate news editor for the Brown and White, live blogs professor Christine Grant’s presentation, “Empowering Women Engineers.”

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:05 pm

Starting at 4:10 p.m. Christine Grant will share her story and talk about empowerment strategies for women engineers.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:15 pm

Grant starts off her presentation by saying it’s her first time here at Lehigh.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:17 pm

Everybody in the lecture hall received an envelope as they came through the door. Grant asks everyone to take their envelope out. Then point to the screen which says, “Lehigh Leveraged Empowerment Having Innovation and Going Higher”

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:19 pm

Grant asks crowd if they like Dr. Seuss. She says she wrote something that reminded her of Cat in the Hat. She starts reading it out loud, a poem called “Where is there”

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:21 pm

Grant starts to talk about her life, saying the audience might identify with her journey.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:22 pm

In the beginning, Grant was born in New York. Both her parents were teachers and she says she grew up in a house of educators.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:24 pm

She says her first project as an engineer, or experiment, was trying to take apart her baby stroller when she was a toddler. She asks the crowd what they have taken apart and if they put anything together when they were young.

“We all have this curiosity and that’s what took us to these STEM fields, especially engineering,” says Grant.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:26 pm

Grant says that one empowerment strategy is to prove excellence in a dimly lit room. What she means by this is that some people did not believe she could do certain things, but she proved them right through determination.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:27 pm

Next empowerment strategy is “holding your own to make it to the finish line.” She says leadership roles and opportunities will help you stand out.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:29 pm

“We are inspired to succeed, but expected to fail,” Grant says.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:30 pm

“We are inspired to succeed, but expected to fail,” Grant says.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:32 pm

She shows some pictures from the I, too, am Harvard, which exhibit “micro-agressions,” according to Grant. She mentions that most of these are directed at racial details. She then says these micro-aggressions also happen to women in engineering fields.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:35 pm

She encourages women engineers to speak up, by saying that she was the only black woman in her faculty and barely spoke up.
Once at a meeting, she commented an idea to her colleague and he said it was a good idea. He spoke up for her idea and gave her credit. After that experience, she says she talked more at these meetings and shared her ideas.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:37 pm

The experience of having ann ally to help her find her voice, made her change her mind about speaking up and sharing ideas.
“When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea,” reads the display on screen.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:40 pm

“Let me be clear, I’m not trying to male-bash,” says Grant.
She says there’s some push-back from some men when women try to do the same things they do.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:42 pm

“Not everybody who looks like you, is going to be for you,” says Grant about how not everybody in your same gender, race or ethnicity will support your decisions.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:49 pm

Grant says women have to identify a vision, which she describes as a “big thing you want to accomplish.”

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:52 pm

Grant promotes three stages to empowerment: Identify, Create and Execute.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20154:56 pm

She says people have to cultivate “outside the academic career box goals,” which are things people don’t expect you to do or are non-traditional for your major. She then cites leadership, mentoring, research and teaching opportunities as examples. She cites these goals help people stand out from the expected goals of there major.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20155:01 pm

Grant says people have to build a “support team,” which would be a mentor or a coach, to help them with their journey.
She then says few of her mentors look like her – they are white males – and she cites the reason is that these are the people who populate her field.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20155:05 pm

“In a room of 25 engineers, 3 will be women,” reads a picture on screen.
Grant says that that will barely change in our lifetime.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20155:09 pm

Grant talks about all the people who expected her to fail, like the professor who told her she should change her major. But now, as a faculty member, she says she has helped mentor other people.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20155:13 pm

“Being a woman of color is just one of my identities,” Grant says noting that she is also a professor, a mother and a mentor. And she says that although women in the engineering field might be classified as “women engineers” that’s only one part of their identity.

Gaby Morera Gaby Morera February 10, 20155:14 pm

She closes the talk by encouraging others to not only focus on their academics, but to have “a life.”

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