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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

Charlotte Connell says about her dad “He was my best friend, mentor and surfing buddy”

Get Motivated is a series presented in partnership with the Movember Foundation.

Devastated by the loss of her father to prostate cancer, Charlotte Connell is passionate about improving men’s health for the sake of her son and to prevent men dying too early from cancer and mental illness.

The week her father died Charlotte Connell found out she was pregnant with her first child. After a lengthy battle with prostate cancer her beloved Dad Geoff succumbed to illness he had been diagnosed with in 2007.

“I miss him every day,” Charlotte said. “He wasn’t just my Dad, he was my best friend, mentor and surfing buddy.”

Growing up by the beach her father was a patient and fit man who taught her to surf. And he always told her that she would make a great mum one day.

Sadly he never had the chance to meet his grandson Finn Geoffrey, now 15 months old, but his memory lives on and his positive attitude towards his health is something his daughter wants her son, and other men to benefit from.

“As soon as Dad found out (he was ill) he started talking about it, and it was a good thing he did – he inspired friends and family to get tested and a close family friend caught his prostate cancer early,” she said.

He also inspired Charlotte to raise awareness of both mental and physical health issues in men.

She has been raising money for Movember for the past five years and has managed to rope in friends along the way. But now she has a son she wants Finn to be part of her campaign.

“I have got to do something with my son because he is the future and he’s why I am doing it,” she said. “(When he’s older) I want Finn to ask me why I did all these things so I can explain it to him.”

Not being able to grow a moustache herself has not stopped Charlotte from inventing creative and effective ways to raise funds for Movember.

“Dad had this magnificent moustache – he was like a surfer god. When he got sick I thought ‘Oh no! Dad’s going to lose his moustache’ from the chemo so I wanted to do something positive. I thought if I can wear a moustache and suffer the ridicule (of walking around with a fake mo) then men can go and get a health check!”

She’s as passionate about mental illness as she is about physical health. “I think Finn is growing up in a brilliant time when men talk about mental health issues, there is less stigma attached and there is the realisation that it’s totally OK not to be OK.”

And while older generations of men may have ignored their health concerns, male friends have thanked her for encouraging them to seek regular check-ups.

“I want to get the next generation of men on board with this message,” she said.

Charlotte will again be raising funds for Movember this year – along with son Finn.

Get Motivated. Support Movember and help stop men dying young. Sign up at and Grow a Mo or Move to be the difference in a man’s life.

Henry Sapiecha

The women who regret becoming mothers for their own reasons

Most mothers feel at some stage that they’d like a break from the endless demands of small people, to reacquaint themselves with who they used to be – or to just drink a cup of tea in peace.

But what if that ill feeling persists?

What if a mother suspects she has made a horrible mistake having children? In a society that idealises and sanctifies motherhood, it can be almost impossible to voice these fears aloud.

Yet Dr Orna Donath, research sociologist and author of Regretting Motherhood, says it is likely far more common that we realise. “Often [the regret] boils down to two main reasons; the experience of responsibility that never ends – even as grandmothers – and the knowing feeling that motherhood doesn’t suit them,” she says.

“Motherhood might change women’s lives in ways they could not have predicted up until one second before birth. If we don’t treat motherhood as a mythical kingdom, and if we treat mothers as human beings, then we should be able to comprehend that flesh-and-blood women might think and feel that they have made a mistake.”


Graphic designer, mother of one

“Most days I don’t feel like I’m parenting, but shifting gears; doing the bare minimum to get my daughter to and from where she needs to be so that I can say I’ve done my job. It’s both the least I can do and the most I can do. My heart isn’t in any of this. I went into motherhood at age 33 excited about the future, and in my head everything looked like one big nappy cream commercial with a happy, bouncy baby and a cooing mum constantly hovering adoringly nearby.

Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of the constant demands, the damaged relationships or the loss of my freedom. Suddenly I was expected to be chained to this little human day and night, and although I knew that was the way it would be before I had a baby, thinking about it and living it year-on-year are two very different things.

At first people thought I had postnatal depression, but I knew it was more than that; deep down I just knew I’d made a terrible mistake and that I should never have become a mum. Some women aren’t cut out for it, and the unfortunate thing is that sometimes there’s just no way of knowing which way you’ll swing until you come home with a baby. And then it’s all too late, you’re trapped. And that’s exactly how I feel most days – trapped.

I was worried, of course, so I did the counselling thing and the medication thing, but by the time my daughter was four years old , I knew it had nothing to do with postnatal depression and everything to do with the fact that I wasn’t mum material.

You can’t tell people that, though, because unless you’re of the opinion that having kids is the best thing ever, you get crucified. So you learn to smile a lot and say the right things and do the right things in order to fit in.

I haven’t even told my husband because he’d probably think I’m a monster. That only serves to make me feel more alone in the world.

My daughter is 11 now and some days I feel like she’s onto me. She has a way of looking at me like she can see straight into my soul and I’m terrified I’m damaging her. I wish I could tell her it’s not that I don’t love her – I love her immensely and I’m so, so proud of the person she’s growing up to be – but it’s motherhood with all of its limitations that I struggle with.

I wish I could tell her that I’m just as surprised as she is and that I went into this with the best of intentions. But mostly, I think I would tell her that I’m sorry and that I would have wished better for her.”


Corporate lawyer, mother of two

“When I had my first baby at 35, I was what you would call the ultimate career woman. I had several phones, a calendar full of meetings and a husband who worked in same field – although I was always just that little bit ahead. I went on maternity leave confident I could just pick up where I left off, and of course my world just imploded.

For the past eight years, I’ve watched my husband’s career rise and rise while mine has deflated like a balloon, as though it popped out a baby and came crashing down to earth.

I went into motherhood without thinking too much about how much I wanted it personally, only that it was just something everyone was expected to do. I hadn’t been around babies before and had no idea what I was doing, so the sense of shock when I first held my daughter was overwhelming. Prior to motherhood, I was a runner – I left jobs when I didn’t want to work there any more and relationships when I no longer felt they were working.

Suddenly, here I was in this situation where I couldn’t run. Instead of that grand rush of love everyone talks about, I became aware that I was no longer free, and that quite possibly I had ruined a life that had been pretty great.

My daughter has special needs and that is tough on a day-to-day basis, but for me, the hardest thing has been the loss of my identity and the loss of agency. I began grieving for everything that seemed lost to me, and that’s not easily done because you’re grieving in a space where you’re not allowed to grieve, so there’s a real cognitive dissonance with everything around you.

When my daughter was four months old, I began working part-time again, but felt like I couldn’t do anything – my job or parenting – as well as I’d hoped, and that only added to my disappointment.

My husband and I thought giving our daughter a sibling to focus on would make things less intense and so our son was born five years ago. We are on the right track – things are better at home now – but careerwise, I still struggle with what is and what could have been.

I worked in my own business part-time for years, but it often felt like I was spending most of my time watching YouTube tutorials on how to fold fitted sheets. Every time I was asked, ‘Where is my dinner?’ I’d immediately think, ‘How did this become my life? Who am I?

Where did I go?’ Yesterday I was offered a job which is the equivalent of the work that I did pre-children, but part-time and earning a third of the salary I was on back then. I accepted it.

Today I can say my children are an absolute delight, but I don’t mind admitting it’s taken me many years and a lot of work on myself to get there. Acceptance of my situation has been key, as has very deliberately hugging my daughter for no reason. I don’t know why, but this simple act of human touch and connection has changed us both and while I still have days when I hate motherhood, it’s no longer every minute of every day. Some days are filled with pure joy.”


Public relations executive, mother of two

“Sometimes, when I’m doing the school run, or making dinner, I daydream about what my life could have been had I not had children so young. Would I have travelled? What kind of heights could I have reached in my career? But most of all, I wonder if I would be happier.

Getting pregnant at 20 was a huge shock to both me and my boyfriend. We’d only been together a year and were firmly in that whole going out and partying phase – a baby was not in our plans! But we decided it was meant to be and at the age of 21, I became a mother to a little girl.

To give you an idea of the mindset of somebody of that age, after I came home from hospital, I got a call from a girlfriend, not because she wanted to meet the baby, but because she wanted to ask if I was free to go out drinking. That was the moment I realised I was on a very different path to that of my friends and I suddenly felt quite lonely.

My resentment towards my partner kicked in around the three-week mark when I realised his life really hadn’t changed all that much. I tried not to pay too much attention to those niggling thoughts initially, but when I went back to work part-time when my daughter was 10 months old and I commenced the work-family juggle, I realised just how furious I had become with him.

I was trying to hold down a job, do the childcare run and keep the house afloat with the meals, laundry and cleaning and then I’d get, ‘I don’t know what you’re so upset about? You get to have fun at home for most of the week away from work.’ He just couldn’t understand what a blow motherhood had been to my sense of self, relationships and career, and we ended up in couples counselling.

Truth be told, a sense of regret has really only made its presence felt since our son was born two years ago. It wasn’t my choice to have another baby so soon, but I have to have a full hysterectomy soon, so the doctors informed me it was very much a ‘now or never’ situation.

The birth itself was fine, but as my son has grown older and his demands have become more constant, I’ve realised that they’ve worn me down. I would just like one day when I don’t have to hear, ‘I want’, ‘I need’ and ‘Do this’ but I know I’m not likely to get that wish for another 20 years, if ever.

I try to talk to people about how I feel, but they tend to shut me down – even the ones I know feel the same way. Maybe it touches too close to the bone, who knows?

It’s easy to focus on all the things you’re missing out on – sometimes I can’t help myself. I think about the jobs I can’t go for because I’m currently limited in what I can do, and the friendships that have fallen by the wayside.

I know I shouldn’t wish my children’s childhood away but I dream of the day they’re older and have more independence so that I can stop being just a mum 24/7 and go back to being me.

Names have been changed.

Henry Sapiecha


Female teacher charged with persistent sex abuse of girl student in WA

A teenage girl was subjected to sexual assaults by her 26-year-old female teacher for almost a year,police say.West Australia

The teacher faces 23 sexual assault charges, including 15 counts of sexual penetration and one count of persistent sexual conduct with a child aged under 16.


The WA female teacher faces a spate of sex abuse charges, including rape. 

Police allege the 15-year-old student was abused between July 2015 and May 2016.

The offenses were reported on Friday evening and the woman was arrested on Saturday.

The woman is to appear in the Magistrates Court Midlands on June 14.



Henry Sapiecha

‘I don’t sleep with the girls’, says Human Resources manager of Prague brothel

prostitute in red dress image

Czech psychologist Lukás Sedlácek is a Human Resources manager – in a whorehouse. His job is to interview new girls who would want to work there but also talks on a regular basis to existing “members of staff” about the conflicts they have either with the respective clients or among themselves.
Sedlácek has to deal with such problems every day. If one of the ladies becomes “unsuccessful”, in other words does not have many clients, she immediately starts to grumble, trying to blame all the others rather than herself, he explained in a recent interview given to Czech daily Dnes.
“I actually have many friends among these girls, we drink a beer in pubs together, for instance, or visit a cinema, but I never go with them ‘upstairs’, so to say,” Sedlácek insists. He did admit, though, that at one time, he lived for some time with a young woman who worked in a similar “facility”.
At present, however, he doesn’t have a girlfriend and in fact says that he doesn’t feel the need to look for one, either. “If you are surrounded by [scantily clad] females in your workplace every day, the last thing you would like to see in your free time is a nude female,” he says, noting that he has always been quite a loner anyway.
Regarding new “applicants for the job” at the brothel in question (called ShowPark DaVinci and located in Prague, the country’s capital), Sedlácek advises them how to communicate well with their clients, something they are often not at all good at, as he points out. “The newcomers usually think that it’s enough to just look good and everything will go smoothly but that is definitely not the case – it may have been so fifteen, twenty years ago, but not anymore, because the competition has become fierce and the clients ever more demanding.”
Appearance is important but not the number one thing when he interviews a new girl, the main one being why she wants to be doing this work in the first place and whether she has communicating skills. An HR manager at such a facility should also be able to uncover whether the woman is not being forced into this profession, Sedlácek adds, because if that is the case, various non-profit organisations or even the police should immediately be contacted.
It’s actually inaccurate to call the women who work in ShowPark DaVinci “members of staff” as they merely rent rooms on its premises and do not give any other money to the club’s owners. The respective business with a potential client is being negotiated downstairs at the bar with the whorehouse, as Sedlácek insists, not having any say at all as to how much different things should cost.
Only rarely does this psychologist in fact discuss with the girls what goes on in the rooms. “A very frequent problem we on the other hand go through is when one of them is hurt because the client doesn’t want her – she views that as a failure, the absolutely biggest blow to her ego, and her confidence goes down since that is something she has not been used to before,” Sedlácek explains. “If she had visited a discotheque prior to working in this profession, it was her who in many cases rejected the young men around since she simply did not find them attractive enough.”
Among other things that he helps “his” ladies with is to come to terms with the work they are doing, why they are doing it, whether it’s something they should be ashamed of or not, etc. Sedlácek also teaches them “how to do business”, however (many clients bargain about the price they should pay), and since some of the girls are not very good in foreign languages, he organises for them the respective courses.
Sedlácek wasn’t able to tell the newspaper in question the average price that the girls charge for their “services” since it very much depends on what type is involved but conceded that some earn each month as much as three hundred thousand Czech crowns (approximately 8, 000 pounds) or even more. It is therefore very difficult for them to say goodbye to such a job.
He also had difficulties to describe a typical woman you could come across at ShowPark DaVinci since the spectrum is very wide, from university students to mothers and wives who are between eighteen and forty-five years of age. “Many come from abroad so if they do not speak Czech, we take great care that they at least communicate in English,” Sedlácek adds.
Interest to work in this facility is quite big – during the fifteen years of its existence approximately three thousand women rented a room there. At present, around three hundred alternate there.
Girls are allowed to come to the club at the very most twenty days a month. The thing is that earlier on, many of them worked two or even three months in a row, without a single day off, and as a result some eventually collapsed.
Thirty-four years old Lukás Sedlácek, whose liberal-minded mother (she once even visited him in his workplace, to see what it looks like) is a fashion designer, studied psychology and journalism, his thesis having being – somewhat surprisingly, considering what he does now – about asexuality, in other words about people who are not interested in sex. He then worked for instance for a non-profit organisation which focused on domestic violence against women and at a police academy as a psychologist counselling victims of rape but for a short time, he was also the manager of a hotel in north-eastern England and in 2013 ended up as one of ShowPark DaVinci’s seven people (three men and four women) employed in the field of human resources. (5)
Henry Sapiecha