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Grown from STEM: January Edition

01/31/2021 8:02 AM | Anonymous

Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

We hope your year has gotten off to a good start!  Women & Hi Tech is looking forward to getting back to in-person programming later this year, and, in the meantime, we have great virtual programming scheduled.  Do not miss our Executive Women's Forum on February 11, 2021, featuring Dr. Kristina Box, our bi-weekly ClickSide Chat series, or the March Virtual Book Club.  We are continuing our "Grown from STEM" monthly newsletter this year, highlighting Women & Hi Tech Board members and members at large who are, in fact, changing the landscape in their profession in meaningful and positive ways.  This month's newsletter focuses on Project Management in the STEM fields. Project Management is an excellent career choice for women, given how skilled women are at multi-tasking.  Walt Disney is quoted as saying, “Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal.” Women do this intuitively, without giving it much thought.

If you reflect on what you do on any given day at home, at work, or through volunteering, you are frequently managing little projects, accessing the skill set of those around you, and leveraging them in a way to achieve a goal.  Your project may be to get your children through a week of virtual and in-person school, installing a new software platform at work, building a new chemical plant, organizing an event for your church group, planning your mother's big birthday bash, or daughter's wedding (that is on my list this year!).  I am constantly multitasking, switching up my communication style and actions to adjust to my audience, and working to accomplish little milestones.  I do this so fluidly that I do not even think about the fact that I am applying project management skills.

Data on the involvement of women in project management is difficult to find. One statistic available from the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that women currently constitute an estimated 20 – 30 % of the project management staff worldwide. The numbers are increasing, but still, most women migrate to Project Management rather accidentally versus choosing it post-college graduation. The majority begin their career as a technical expert and over time progress into the role of a Project Manager.

The fact that women do not gravitate to Project Management is odd against the back- drop that women are well suited for this type of role. What makes women well-positioned to be successful as project managers?  Several characteristics stand out: 

  • The ability to have impromptu effortless communication.
  • Innate drive to build relationships and take care of people.
  • Strong ability at interpreting problems, establishing order, and making the complex simple.
  • Multi-tasking abilities and less likely to be fazed by changes to priorities, requirements, budget or staffing levels.

When a STEM degree is coupled with Project Management, it makes a powerful skill set. The Women & Hi Tech Executive Women's Forum on design and construction held last year shared how rewarding careers within this industry were for women.  Project Management opportunities is one skill set always in high demand in construction.  The same is true for manufacturing and information technology.

Of course, there are good and bad female and male project managers and women do not have all the advantage when it comes to Project Management.  But never underestimate a women's natural skills and talents – they could be a major factor in the final outcome of a project. It is also well-known that diversity in Project Management and teams – gender, race, and cultural balance – produces better project results. Women make great project managers.  We should not just ooze into it; more women need to step into these roles intentionally because we are pretty darn good at it, and teams need us!  I am finding that I am an expert wedding planner, I don't need to hire this role out (although don't tell my husband I may overspend the budget)!

This brings me to our 24th edition of "Grown from STEM".  We are featuring Women & Hi Tech Board Member and Secretary, Kelly Sandstrom and dedicated member Nikki Manus, both excelling in the field of Project Management.   In their profiles, Kelly and Nikki shared their journey into Project Management.  Both may have gotten there accidentally, but certainly prove my point that women should raise their hand more often.  Both Kelly and Nikki are stand out Project Management professionals.  Kelly is a certified PMP and PSM and recently elected as the Vice President of Communications for the Project Management Institute of Central Indiana.  Nikki is also a PMP and PSM, as well as having a master’s degree in Management.  Their project management expertise is not only leading to career success, but they are both leveraging that expertise helping Women & Hi Tech succeed in fulfilling its mission to change the landscape of women in STEM.  Please read more about Kelly and Nikki.

As we began in the October 2020 edition of "Grown from STEM," we are delighted to continue to feature one of our 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) recipients in this newsletter. This month we continue to celebrate and recognize Women & Hi Tech's inaugural recipient for the new OperationALL Males Allies Award, Lamont Hatcher.  Lamont is the CEO of AIS, where he has intentionally recruited a strong, diverse team of women and men.  He is an ally in every way capable. Outside his involvement with Women & Hi Tech, he serves on the board for both Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity and Morning Light, Inc. He also mentors young African American men through 100 Black Men as well as many women in the technology field. Lamont is passionately committed to being a friend, mentor, and servant to others. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Lamont's passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Lamont!

Sincerely,

Linda M. Hicks
President-Elect Women & Hi Tech
Vice President Midwest Operation, ECC Horizons
Presidentelect@womenandhitech.org


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