In our last profile of Linda Hicks, we shared the story of her career in chemical engineering, including that she was first inspired to become an engineer by her father, an electrical engineer. In high school, she got to visit Carnegie Mellon and learn about different types of engineering, solidifying her decision in a career. Today, it’s her commitment to sustain and grow the STEM talent pipeline of the future that has inspired her to become the President-Elect of Women & Hi Tech.
“We need diverse people—age, culture, race, religion—to make teams successful. But finding all those elements when the pool of candidates in a specific skill set isn’t very robust is difficult,” Hicks said. In addition to Women & Hi Tech, Hicks is a Board Member of other youth-oriented organizations like Techpoint Foundation for Youth and Every Girl Can STEM. Hicks’ passion is to get young people interested in pursuing STEM careers. “We have to solve the problem, not the symptom. The problem is that a lot of young people shy away from STEM, particularly when kids have had little to no exposure to all the possibilities and opportunities a path in STEM can offer. There’s a perception these careers are tough and there’s not enough education and support for students to feel capable of the challenge,” Hicks explained. “Once a student gets a taste of what’s possible, what they can create or achieve with some math or science, they can shift their paradigm to feeling empowered. Techpoint Foundation for Youth’s state robotics program is a great example of this. Students who have participated in this program have shared their excitement with me - that learning how to make a robot has made an impact for them by giving them confidence in their math and science capabilities. “
Linda was a member of Women & Hi Tech for five years before joining the Board of Directors. Since that time, she has served on the Board as the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Director for the past two years. “The more I met other women who came through the same trenches, the better I felt. Our organization is unique because we are all like-minded and tough, regardless of our specific academic or STEM backgrounds. We all keep pushing forward in work situations when a woman’s voice isn’t always that welcome. The value we bring to each other is helping each other persevere,”said Hicks.
Hicks plans to leverage her skills developing and implementing growth plans to help Women & Hi Tech execute on the next phase of its potential. “We continue to have a growth strategy because we know our messaging and mission is beneficial to women in STEM. We have collected feedback from our membership about our programming and the value it provides to our members, sponsors, partners and friends. We want to expand that value across Indiana and STEM, especially into science & engineering. We are exploring opportunities to do so,” she explained.
Feedback from our membership has revealed how Women & Hi Tech serves current professionals and future STEM talent alike. Hicks shared, “we know members find value in our network of diverse people that are here to support, encourage, and help give you a push to get to the next level, take a step out or step up, or speak up for yourself. We provide great professional development and opportunities to network. Anyone struggling with a difficult career situation and needs advice or is looking for a job and wanting to understand other career opportunities, can find someone in our organization who has shared that experience and can help.”
When asked about the future of Women & Hi Tech, Hicks said “sharing experiences and education is key for personal growth today, and to ensure STEM fields have diverse talent now and in the future. To grow today’s professionals and tomorrow’s workforce, it is important to get the message out that STEM jobs are achievable, challenging, and full of potential for everyone. With more focused education and outreach to our youth, our communities and our nation will be more self-sufficient in the technologies that matter to us.”