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I’m a 28-year veteran of the global healthcare company Abbott, where I’m responsible for the company’s engineering, regulatory, and quality assurance functions in over 150 countries

I started my career at Abbott in 1989 and have held a number of senior positions, including senior manufacturing engineer, production manager, and engineering manager.

In 2012, I began the Abbott’s high school STEM internship program, targeting underrepresented students. A high school engineering internship changed the trajectory of my life when I was 17, and I am passionate about helping young people, especially girls and minorities, realize their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) dreams. To date, almost 90 young people have taken part and 97 percent are pursuing a STEM degree or have a STEM job.

This is as personal as it gets.

The fact that only one in seven engineers is a woman. That only one in 50 is an African-American female. The fact that I, as an African-American female engineer am 10 times rarer than a woman in Congress.

As a young woman, my mom and my grandfather encouraged me to study math and science, and today I work at Abbott’s as its top engineer. My granddad only made it formally through eighth grade, but he and my family valued education. My mom went to school herself whilst raising five kids.

That’s what made the difference when an opportunity of a lifetime came my way. I was 17, working for $1.76-an-hour at Jack in the Box to cover expenses for extra-curricular programs at school, when IBM came to my inner-city Dallas school, looking for a student who could intern there for the summer.

The support of a few key teachers, a guidance counselor, and my family made the decision to work for IBM that summer a reality. What followed was another internship and eventually a degree – and a career. That internship changed the direction of my life.

This coming weekend, I’m sharing this story and taking this issue head on with thousands of students at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C., along with my colleague, Abbott neuroscientist Beth McQuiston. I know the power of words, and of stories, and hope these girls walk away knowing that no matter their ZIP code, no matter the color of the skin or their gender or their socioeconomic status – they, too, can be an engineer one day.

As much as I am thankful for the opportunity to share this vision, I also know I am just one person. As one of very few African-American female engineers, I have an obligation to do something to help close a real gap of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. It’s good for our company and its future, but it’s also just the right thing to do for society and the future of innovation.

A shortage of diverse perspectives means the teams creating the next life-changing technologies in our societies are not as equipped as they otherwise would be. How can we innovate for a diverse world if we don’t have diverse innovators?

The reason STEM recruitment and retention is broken when it comes to attracting and holding on to women and minorities, I think, is they don’t see enough people who look like them in their fields, a signal to them that maybe this field isn’t for them – maybe they weren’t meant to succeed here.

To be sure, the fix to that is not straight forward as it may seem. But one thing parents, schools and companies need to do is invest in these young people early, so they see STEM as a viable career option.

Only 10 percent of girls say their parents encourage them to pursue engineering, for instance. That is way too low.

STEM is not hard and boring – it can be intuitive and exciting. Abbott invests in a high school STEM internship program that reaches students as young as 15, empowering them to work on real business problems and giving them a taste of what it’s really like to work in the field, transforming abstract concepts into tangible career options. Outside of the high school internship, since 2006, Abbott has worked with more than 700 schools and community organizations to inspire more than 285,000 students interested in STEM.

We also need to be quick to speak up for good STEM work and education policy. Like I wrote in The Hill, we need Ph.Ds. and inventors, yes – but we also need people with technical skills to work in labs, build prototypes, write code and fill the many, many other STEM-related jobs of the future.

If you work at another company and you’re still with me, I am here for you. I know it isn’t easy to get something like a high school STEM internship off the ground, but I’ve done it. I am willing to share my blueprints. This is bigger than me, and bigger than Abbott. This is about someday, living in a world where diversity of people, ideas and thoughts are equally balanced in creating life-changing technologies that will further advance innovation, technology – and life as we know it.

Henry Sapiecha

How to Help 30 Million Girls Build Careers in STEM

stem-signage image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Around the world and across every industry, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are profoundly transforming society. Computers, transistors, data, and algorithms-and the experts who build and utilize these powerful technologies-are propelling communities and markets forward. Simply put, STEM workers are our world’s change agents, which is why the gender imbalance in the STEM community must be urgently addressed.

More than half of all college graduates are women[1], but according to the American Association of University Women, women earn only 20 percent of physics, engineering, and computer science bachelor’s degrees.[2] Women make up nearly half the total U.S. workforce, but just a quarter of the STEM workforce.[3]

STEM is the work of tomorrow, and it is today’s path to success. STEM employment is predicted to balloon by almost 17 percent between 2010 and 2020.[4] So why aren’t women pursuing STEM degrees and careers? Is it because they are not great at math? Are they disinterested in science? Of course not. Millions of girls and young women would earn STEM degrees and pursue STEM careers if they had one simple thing: encouragement.

Today, only 15 percent of high school girls in the U.S. express interest in pursuing STEM college majors or careers (compared to 40 percent of high school boys).[5] This is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to make sure that all girls can find a place in STEM. We need to encourage and support them as they begin their STEM education, and transition into a STEM career. But without an organized program, it’s difficult for professionals to know how to help and connect with these young women.

Enter Million Women Mentors (MWM), a STEMconnector® initiative. MWM is a collaborative effort between 60 national partners to provide over 30 million girls and women worldwide with STEM mentors. MWM will support one million STEM mentors-so far, 500,000 have pledged to mentor-to increase girls’ interest in pursuing STEM education and careers, and give them the confidence they need to thrive.

Through an automated, scalable and easy-to-use platform, MWM eliminates the obstacles that have stymied past efforts of similar scope. MWM’s program gives STEM professionals a choice of mentorship opportunities (face-to-face, online, paid internships or apprenticeships, workplace mentoring, or sponsorship) in order to reach and assist young women of all demographics.

PepsiCo chairs MWM’s global leadership council, and is committed to addressing the challenge of helping young women find careers in STEM. In 2015, PepsiCo boosted its MWM participation by mobilizing over 100 mentors in the United States. In addition, PepsiCo launched MWM’s first pilot program outside the U.S, in Mexico. Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, 36 volunteer mentors will pair with a first-year STEM student from Universidad Iberoamericana. In 2016, this program will be replicated by other universities, high schools, and companies. PepsiCo’s goal is to sponsor 1,000 mentors in areas beyond the U.S. and Mexico, including France, Poland, and Dubai.

Together, MWM and PepsiCo had a vision for a STEM revolution-one mentor, and one girl, at a time. We’ve already seen some amazing progress, but imagine what could happen if every STEM professional made a commitment to mentoring one-on-one for just two hours a month. We could truly change the game.

Maya Angelou once said, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care.” We all care about the phones in our hands, the computers on our desks, and the cars that we drive. But we must care even more about the girls who want to invent, explore, and discover the next generation of amazing STEM breakthroughs, but who just need a little encouragement to do so.

We can be the catalyst, and these girls can-and will-build the future.

[1] U.S. Department of Commerce: Economics and Statistics Administration https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-24.pdf

[2] http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Why-So-Few-Women-in-Science-Technology-Engineering-and-Mathematics.pdf

[3] U.S. Department of Commerce: Economics and Statistics Administration

[4] The White House Council on Women and Girls 2012 https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/email-files/womens_report_final_for_print.pdf

[5]myCollegeOptions.org®/STEMconnector Cooperative Research Program (2015)

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Henry Sapiecha

Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict in this silicone valley saga

Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

llen Pao, center, walks to Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco, Friday, March 27, 2015. The jury are due back in court on Friday in Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias. Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A long legal battle over accusations that a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm demeaned women and held them to a different standard than their male colleagues became a flashpoint in the ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms.

Though Ellen Pao lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Silicon Valley observers say her case and the attention it received will embolden women in the industry and continue to spur firms to examine their practices and cultures for gender bias.

“This case has been a real wake up call for the technology industry in general and the venture capital community in particular,” said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who teaches gender equity law.

The jury of six men and six women rejected all of Pao’s claims against Kleiner Perkins on Friday, determining the firm did not discriminate against her because she is a woman and did not retaliate against her by failing to promote her and firing her after she filed a sex discrimination complaint.

In making their case during the five-week trial, Pao’s attorneys presented a long list of alleged indignities to which their client was subjected: an all-male dinner at the home of Vice President Al Gore; a book of erotic poetry from a partner; being asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting; being cut out of emails and meetings by a male colleague with whom she broke off an affair; and talk about pornography aboard a private plane.

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But the heart of their argument was that Pao was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women.

Kleiner Perkins’ attorney, Lynne Hermle, countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door. They used emails and testimony from the firm’s partners to dispute Pao’s claims and paint her as a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances in her lawsuit and had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

Rhode and other experts say Kleiner Perkins and the venture capital industry in general did not come out looking good even though they won the case.

“Venture capital firms recognize it’s not appropriate to be out in the streets celebrating,” said Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, a nonprofit that aims to boost minority representation in science, technology, engineering and math fields. “They don’t have the moral high ground.”

Even before the Pao trial started, a succession of employment statistics released during the past 10 months brought the technology industry’s lack of diversity into sharper focus.

Women hold just 15 percent to 20 percent of the technology jobs at Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo, according to company disclosures. The data were mortifying for an industry that has positioned itself as a meritocracy where intelligence and ingenuity are supposed to be more important than appearances or connections.

The venture capital industry is even more male-dominated, with a study released last year by Babson College in Massachusetts finding that women filled just 6 percent of partner-level positions at 139 venture capital firms in 2013, down from 10 percent in 1999.

Klein said before the verdict she was contacted by more than a dozen venture capital and technology companies asking how they could improve the environment as a result of the Pao case. She expects some firms will be “smug” after the verdict and do little to change for fear of being dragged through the mud while others will step up.

The attention surrounding the case makes it more likely other women who believe they have been discriminated against will go to court, said David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc., a human resources consulting and contracting firm. Two women who formerly worked at Facebook and Twitter filed gender discrimination cases against the companies during the Pao trial. One of Pao’s attorneys, Therese Lawless, is representing the plaintiff in the Facebook lawsuit.

At the very least, Pao’s suit will prompt more women to open up about their experiences in the workplace, said Nicole Sanchez, founder of Vaya Consulting, which tries to help Silicon Valley companies increase diversity.

“I do see a trend now in the name of Ellen Pao,” Sanchez said, pointing to the Twitter hashtag, “ThankYouEllenPao” that popped up as the verdict came in. “Women in technology are telling their stories.”

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Henry Sapiecha

SEX DISCRIMINATION EMPLOYMENT LETTER from 1939 shows workplace sexism

It was a few weeks before the Second World War broke out and across the Atlantic Josephine Calavetta was working at a photography studio in New York.

The 22-year-old was impressing her superiors with her skill and work ethic and asked to be transferred to a different studio- Studio #60- in Brooklyn.

She was denied the opportunity. While the vice-president of Grant Photo Corporation admitted he “would be only too glad” for her to take up the position because they knew she was up to the job, he could not allow it “due to the fact that we have to have a man manager in New York City”.

Her story was published on Women You Should Know as part of Women’s History Month.

One of Josephine’s jobs at the studio was to colourblack and white portraits.

“At that time, hand-colouring was a prestigious job, involving meticulous work that required immense skill. Josephine would apply watercolours, coloured oils, crayons or pastels, over a black and white image’s surface using brushes, her fingers, or cotton swabs.”

A year after the initial rejection, the company received a letter from a client, Mrs Kimball, praising Calavetta’s work.

In his reply, the vice-president agreed with Mrs Kimball’s assessment, noting “we have difficulty in discovering girls deserving promotions”.

Calavetta left the company in 1941 and married Antonio Maneri “who did, in fact, have the utmost admiration and respect for the incredible woman she was”.

At 94-years-old, the remarkable women graduated Valedictorian of her class at the assisted living home she lived at until passing away in 2012.

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Henry Sapiecha

TODAYS USA MILITARY WOMEN ON INFO CHART

Todays Military Women
AAA
Henry Sapiecha