Empowering Women in STEM: Working Together to Inspire the Future

Empowering Women in STEM: Working Together to Inspire the Future

Throughout the globe, STEM careers exist. However, in some countries, particular STEM careers have been male-dominated while in other countries no gender biases exist as it relates to STEM careers. One common trend that occurs throughout the world is that women who are working in these STEM-related fields typically leave after about five years.  Contrarily, it has also been uncovered that more women stay in these fields when we all work together.

Empowering Women in STEM: Working Together to Inspire the Future provides the platform to share the stories of those who have been in STEM careers but have pivoted to other areas by utilizing the STEM skills they learned. It bridges the gap between those who are thinking about entering or leaving STEM careers, along with those who want to encourage others into STEM careers.

This book showcases how everyone’s journey is different, some may have unexpected twists and turns while others appear to conform to the “normal” rules outlined by society. By offering a front-row seat on a journey that takes many different paths, this book provides advice that can lead to a STEM career with or without having a STEM background. The different roads taken are highlighted to show that everyone's path is unique and that is okay.

With the upcoming generation constantly looking for ways to “fit in” or be able to identify with role models to help them chart their way forward, this book ensures that they have not just one, but a variety of role models and success stories to relate to.  It also offers some key advice which can be applied to any field they choose. In addition to having women and men from across the globe share their stories about various fields, this book also is written for professionals who may be considering a switch of careers or deciding to leave STEM and for university students who are trying to figure out their career choices and paths to take to gain more insight into possible new career goals in STEM.

Meet the authors!



Katie Mehnert

Founder & CEO of ALLY Energy

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

It’s a question Sheryl Sandberg, friend, former COO of Meta, and “Steminist”, asked me 10 years ago when I read her book, Lean In. I didn’t know how to answer the question. It made me take a serious pause about how I wanted to make a difference in my career and in the future.

As we turn the pages of this remarkable book, let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the strength and resilience of the countless women and men who have courageously ventured into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Their journey, often marked by challenge and adversity, is a testament to their enduring spirit and drive.

They didn’t let fear stop them. They answered the question and the call to act!

(excerpt from the foreword)

More about Katie
The modern architect of the energy workforce, Katie Mehnert is the Founder and CEO of ALLY Energy, the community accelerating connections, jobs, and skills to drive an equitable energy transition. She was appointed Ambassador to the United States Department of Energy in 2020 and has testified before Congress on the clean energy workforce of the future. She was most recently appointed to the National Petroleum Council. She’s also an Energy Institute Fellow and an advisor to Clean Energy for America. Katie is a speaker, author, and trusted source in the energy industry. She has been published in Scientific American, Forbes, The Hill, CNBC, and CNN.

Her first book, Grow with the Flow, was published in 2020. She most recently co-authored Everyday Superheroes: Women in Energy, a children’s book focused on energy careers. Katie also has appeared in Hot Money, a documentary produced by Academy Award-winning
actor, Jeff Bridges and Retired NATO General Wesley Clark on the financial complexities of climate change and finance, and Dirty Nasty
People, a film on the future of the energy workforce. Katie is a four-time World Major marathoner having completed London, Chicago, New York, and Berlin. Her husband is a legal executive with Baker Hughes. They live with their 12-year- old daughter, Ally, in Houston.

Chapter 1: Space for Women: Defining Career Lessons


Shelli Brunswick

CEO & Founder, SB Global LLC

Traditionally, there were a limited number of women in the Space Exploration industry. However, our female author, Shelli Brunswick gives us some insight into how she entered the U.S. Air Force and the reasons behind it. She also reiterates the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity. In her chapter, she interviews five women who have all explored and worked in various sectors of the Space industry. She gives a recount of some of the challenges they experienced as well as solutions to a couple of these. This chapter also gives a spin on not fearing failure but learning from it. Shelli also stresses on the importance of mentoring especially for those who are now entering the field.

More about Shelli

Shelli Brunswick is an eminent figure in the realm of space exploration and innovation. With a wealth of experience spanning across a dynamic career, Shelli's profound insights and visionary perspective have established her as a guiding force within the global space community.

Embarking on a remarkable journey, Shelli has navigated through distinguished roles within the U.S. Air Force, showcasing her prowess as a leader in space acquisition, program management, and congressional liaison. From her impactful tenure as the Chief Operating Officer of Space Foundation, she has seamlessly transitioned to her current role as the CEO & Founder of SB Global. Shelli's leadership acumen is nothing short of exceptional, with a focus on strategic engagements and advocacy that reflects her profound understanding of the intricate tapestry shaping the global space ecosystem.

She is the Board Chair for Manufacturer’s Edge, an approved center for the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, where she provides strategic, financial, and operational oversight. A board member for the GWLC of the WBAF, an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion. She is a board member for AeroAI Global Solutions, whose mission is to leverage space technologies and artificial intelligence to create international solutions to critical global challenges.

Notably, Shelli's influence extends to the future as well. She has contributed her expertise to research initiatives for NASA and ESA, shaping our understanding of the evolving global space paradigm. As a stalwart advocate for women in space, her accolades- Top 100 Women of the Future in Emerging Technology, Chief in Tech Award, two Lifetime Achievement Awards, the DEI and Role Model of the Year, and more -aptly reflect her impactful presence. As a global champion, she was selected as one of the 100 Voices for Our Planet by the United Nations, demonstrating her impact across a diversity of stakeholders and economic sectors.

Beyond her professional achievements, Shelli's leadership spans international organizations, further amplifying her reach. Her involvement with entities like UNOOSA Space4Women Mentoring Program, WomenTech Network, World Business Angeles Investment Forum Global Women Leaders Committee and G100 Global Chair for Space Technology and Aviation underscores her dedication to nurturing talent and fostering global collaboration.

SB Global LLC provides global leaders with customized strategy formulation, strategic partnership engagement, advocacy and outreach programs.

BIED Society is a premier international think-tank, training college, and membership organization based in Washington, D.C

Chapter 2: Be the Change You Want to See

Quite often, we get inspired by those around us. This rings true especially for our next author, Professor Alexandra Knight, who was inspired by her younger sister. She recognized the privileges that she was awarded in life and used it to drive positive change. In this chapter she speaks about her journey into engineering and ways she overcame particular challenges of being a female in such a male-dominated sector. She has also pioneered the nonprofit STEMAZING used to empower women in STEM to be confident, visible role models and link this to inspiring the next generation.

More about Alex

Professor Alexandra Knight, CEng FIMechE FWES is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Women’s Engineering Society. She has had a varied career working in industry for 20 years. Alex’s last job in Industry was as Technical Director for an Asset Management and Data Science Consultancy, where she led a number of projects focused on enabling Digital Asset Management in Infrastructure.

Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion in engineering. In 2019 Alex founded STEMAZING – a social enterprise dedicated to inspiration and inclusion in STEM. Through the organisation’s two key themes – STEMAZINGWomen and STEMAZINGKids – Alex leads several not-for-profit initiatives to support women in STEM to shine as visible role models and inspire our future generations of innovators and problem-solvers.

Chapter 3: I #DERRtobedifferent, I Dare to Be Me

A59A0837_cut_Ludmilla Derr

Dr Ludmilla Derr

Founder & Managing Director, Elite Experts Conferences Ltd

Born in Kazakhstan, moving to Germany and then later on moving to Switzerland may seem like a distant dream, but Dr Ludmilla Derr has a different story, and she dares to be herself! In her chapter, she provides us with her academic background and the changes in culture she saw when moving across countries. She also demonstrates how she plotted her way forward to owning her own company and quickly rescued it during the pandemic by using her creativity to pivot into a more sustainable model. Dr Derr invites us along her journey through the different phases of her life as she navigated learning a second language as a teenager while still performing at the top of her academic studies, transitioning across cultures, getting into the technology field and the importance of perseverance. She also delves into her journeys into parenthood, going back to school to acquire more knowledge to advance her into a different career path while aiming to have the balance of a healthy life and habits.

More about Ludmilla

Dr. Ludmilla Derr is Founder and Managing Director of Elite Experts Conferences and the host of the Elite Experts Conferences Technology Podcast. Ludmilla has a technical background with a diploma degree in chemistry, a PhD in materials sciences and eight years of experience in applied research. Ludmilla also brings very practical experience from the automotive world. After her PhD, she worked in Zurich at Sika Technology R&D headquarters and was responsible for R&D projects worldwide for the customers BMW Group and Fiat Chrysler Group in adhesive technologies in automotive trim applications.

Chapter 4: Paving the Way Forward for Other Female Arab Engineers


Eman Martin-Vignerte

Head of political affairs and government relation, Bosch UK & Ireland

Society often places limits on its members, and these century-old rules have become woven into the very fabric of culture. While these glass ceilings were initially built to structure a society based on times of the past, they can also prevent a society from evolving. This chapter’s author, Eman Martin-Vignerte, is an Arab electrical engineer working in the automotive industry, where she is leading the way. She recounts some of the challenges she had during her studies in a foreign country and ways she overcame particular cultural obstacles. Eman shares some tips on breaking glass ceilings and leading the way for others in fields where you may be in the minority.


More about Eman

Eman Martin Vignerte is the head of political affairs and government relation Bosch UK & Ireland. She holds B.S and M.S. degrees in electrical and medical engineering from the University of Paderborn, Ulm, Germany. She was responsible for business development for telehealth in the UK and Ireland. She has more than six years of experience in software and hardware engineering in the automotive industry. In 2004, she was the project manager for electronic pumps, Hyundai customer, and moved for a year to Korea. She was involved in developing the ceramic Medtronic control units for vehicle engines at Bosch GmbH. She is a board member at BBF (Buckingham Business First). She is the Chair CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Southeast, board member of local enterprise partnership Buckinghamshire, board member at Success Essex Partnership, and an advisor at AUTOEUROPE. She also sits on the advisory board for UK5G. She is a member at OCAVIA – The Oxford-Cambridge ARC Virtual Institute for Aviation, and is an advisor for WE-Transform, Workforce Europe transformation agenda for transport automation, EU Commission.

Chapter 5: Fueling the Future of Women in Industry


Stephanie Hajducek

Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, This One's for the Gals

Being a single mom with limited post-secondary education and a feeble resume would terrify anyone from going to a job fair held by one of the engineering giants in the USA. Yet, Stephanie Hajducek pushed forward, harnessing the willingness to learn and secured an entry-level position in the company. In this chapter, she details how her life changed forever in various roles and ended up earning her bachelor’s degree at the age of 38. She shows us that not everything has a particular time limit and how you can find your place in the workforce, at your time, not anybody else’s. Stephanie goes on to give us the background of her nonprofit, “This One’s for the Gals,” where she helps create awareness and opportunities for girls preparing to enter the workforce.


More about Stephanie

Stephanie Hajducek, Territory Sales Manager for Samson Group, is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of This One's for the Gals, a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps female students in grades K-12 with career exploration and workforce development in the construction, energy and manufacturing industries. At the age of 38, Stephanie walked across the stage at the University of Southern Mississippi to accept her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technology.

While she realizes that was an amazing accomplishment, she can’t help but think of the number of years she spent spinning her wheels trying to find her place in the workforce. Her goal now is not only to help girls with career exploration but to introduce them to occupations that they may not have considered previously, didn’t know existed or didn’t think were for them. Stephanie hopes that by sharing her experiences and lessons learned she can help girls step out of their comfort zone and step into a world of endless possibilities in industry!

Chapter 6: Building the Next Generation of STEM Heroes


Marcella Ceva

Chief Investment Officer, WE Ventures - Microsoft

Can a career in finance actually impact the STEM world? Even though Marcella Ceva studied international relations and went to law school, she is still making an impact in the STEM world. As a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, she moved into corporate finance and finally into investment banking. Today, she proudly heads the first venture capital fund in Latin America that invests exclusively in women in tech. As a Brazilian, she notes that there are very few women on boards of directors, but that she is trying to change this. Marcella also dives into the advantages of taking a sabbatical year and navigating the world of work after such a break from the workforce. She provides some exclusive tips on motherhood while running a successful venture capital fund with Microsoft. Her dream job in finance and sense of purpose allows her to be part of the change so desperately needed to close the gender gap for women in tech and to build the next generation of STEM heroes.

More about Marcella

Marcella Ceva is the Chief Investment Officer for Microsoft’s WE Ventures venture capital fund, with over 14 years of experience in investment banking, M&A and fund raising in global firms such as Evercore Partners and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. She began her career in corporate law, has a law degree from Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, studied international relations at Michigan State University, specialized in human rights and women’s health at Stanford, and holds a CFA certificate in ESG investing. Marcella is among LAVCA’s top women investing in Latin America, Revista Exame’s 100 Women in Innovation, marathon runner, active volunteer and board member for NGOs, and a proud mother of two.

Chapter 7: STEM with Mr N: STEM Communication, Awards, and the Power of STEM Advocates


Stuart Naismith

Primary Teacher, STEM with Mr N / North Lanarkshire Council

Stuart Naismith was initially a salesman of car finance and is now an award-winning primary science teacher and advocate for STEM education and careers. Even though he does not have a background in STEM, he has been changing lives and creating a new path for the education of students. He has managed to weave STEM into many areas of the curriculum, has run an astrobiology after-school club, developed a Classifying Stars after-school club and lots more. He debunks a couple of myths about STEM and how he has dealt with these in one form or another.

The YouTube series, STEM with Mr N, was born when Stuart held the responsibility of educating 6- to 11-year-olds about STEM during the pandemic. He uses his creative talent to make STEM more engaging for students and to help other teachers implement similar strategies even without a background in STEM. Stuart also gives some sage advice on ways teachers can help associate classroom topics with careers to help children to explore their career aspirations from a young age. He also provides a couple of tips on what others can do to encourage more children into STEM fields.

More about Stuart

Stuart Naismith is a primary teacher in Scotland, as well as a STEM communicator across social media platforms. He has a passion for engaging people of all ages in STEM education, but especially in explaining big topics in a child-friendly way, accompanied with practical activities to allow people to personally explore the concepts they are learning about. Stuart has undertaken training courses with the UK Centre for Astrobiology, the European Space Agency, the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, and the Scottish Schools Education Resource Centre (SSERC), and is a Fellow of the Primary Science Teaching Trust.

Stuart is married to a successful doctor, Viv, and together they have three beautiful children: a son, James, and identical twin daughters, Sophie and Olivia. When he’s not teaching, Stuart is spending most of his time with his family, enjoying all the experiences that come with parenthood.

In the very little spare time he has left these days, Stuart loves reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and he has an impressive, and ever-increasing, collection of signed books by some of the best science communicators, as well as a number of fiction authors. Stuart also plays ice hockey, which he has been doing since he was five years old; a passion he shares with his father, who he plays on a team with. You can find STEM with Mr N at youtube.com/c/stemwithmrn and by searching for “STEM with Mr N” across social media.

Chapter 8: Increasing UPTIME: The Journey from Banking to Engineering

Can someone with a banking background eventually end up in the field of engineering? Yes, the fields are not mutually exclusive, especially if the opportunities align and the individual is motivated enough to learn more. Jenny Ambler started off her career as a human cheque processor, where accuracy and speed were quintessential to ensuring that everything balanced at the end of the day. Her role could be likened to early data programmers in the 1950s. After leaving this monotonous routine, she went abroad and eventually got into an entry-level role in a new factory. She explains about the shift in culture from the dress code to the night shift hours. She later went on to become the first female technical operator at the factory and was dedicated to one of the packaging lines which produced Doritos. Jenny was instrumental in bringing this all-time favourite snack to the market. After 18 years, she and her partner Andy decided to form UPTIME Consultant and got a break from the 12-hour shifts required in the manufacturing industry. She shares in this chapter how this new adventure has brought her joy and advises that people should not pigeonhole themselves to one thing.

More about Jenny

Jenny Ambler is the co-director of engineering consultancy UPTIME Consultant Ltd based in the UK. A true inspiration to other women to join the industry, she shares her birthday on 8 March with International Women’s Day. She supports the Breast Cancer Charity ‘Walk the Walk’ by raising money and taking part in their annual walking challenges over marathon distances – imagine up to 15,000 women walking 26.2 miles starting at midnight. Over the past few years she has completed the London, Edinburgh and Icelandic editions of ‘Walk the Walk Moonwalk’ and this year will be working as an event volunteer in London to give her feet a well-earned rest! Jenny still enjoys working with her hands by crafting with Paracord and making Amigurumi figures.

Chapter 9: Unexpected Paths, Endless Possibilities: A Journey of Integration between Literature and STEM

Corey Hall_02

Corey Marie Hall, PhD

Director of Curriculum Solutions, STEM Education Works

Preparing students for the future while engaging them in fun and exciting STEM experiences is all in a day’s work for a Director of Curriculum Solutions. In this chapter, Corey Marie Hall talks about her unexpected journey towards this career and how she has transitioned from a bookworm to becoming a leader in STEM. She sheds some much-needed light on ways that people with creative and literary backgrounds can bring a richness and depth to the world of STEM which tends to go unnoticed. Corey talks about exploring various fields, beginning with nursing, then switching to business, then considering criminal justice, but eventually finding her passion with teaching. She talks about using technology and coding as tools to help elevate the power of storytelling and help others to embrace the relationship between creativity and STEM.

More about Corey

Corey Marie Hall is an experienced educator, librarian, and college professor. She is passionate about kids, literacy, and technology. In her position as Director of Curriculum Solutions at STEM Education Works, she has the opportunity to work with other amazing educators to create and edit STEM curriculum for K-12 students. In the process, she gets to experiment with new technologies and help educators implement them into their own teaching. She has a PhD and MS in educational technology and an MLIS with a specialization in emerging technologies.

Chapter 10: Maneuvering the Moving Sidewalk of Your Career

Susan Lubell

Susan Lubell

Principal Consultant, Steppe Consulting Inc

In life, there is never a linear path; there are detours, branches and routes which help us to fully explore life. Careers are no different, and as Susan Lubell describes it in this chapter, they can be likened to a moving sidewalk where you jump on and off. She talked to female engineers from the university level all the way to those with over 20 years of experience. She characterizes our careers as three phases: the early career phase (learning and exploring), the mid-career phase (competence and all-around performance) and the final career phase (giving back to your employer and community). She shares her experiences in each phase of her career, some of the obstacles she had to overcome as well as some suggestions which can be implemented. Susan also dives into the reasons most women leave the workforce during the mid-career phase. She speaks to the criticality of networking and having career guidance as well as mentorship. Finally, Susan gives her thoughts on the lack of women in the engineering field.

More about Susan

Susan Lubell, P. Eng., MBA, MMP, CAMA, is the Principal Consultant, Steppe Consulting Inc, and author of Root Cause Analysis Made Simple – Driving Bottom Line Improvements by Preventing One Failure at a Time. She specializes in asset management and reliability strategy, cost-effective lean maintenance programs, and operational excellence. Susan’s career has focused on production operations for oil and gas, mining and energy sectors, as well as teaching maintenance and asset management college courses at the national certification level.

Along the way, she has achieved her Professional Engineering, Maintenance Management Professional (MMP) and Certified Asset Management Assessor (CAMA) certifications and has held leadership roles within PEMAC Asset Management Association of Canada and WPiAM World Partners in Asset Management, authored a book and contributed to another. Susan has a keen interest in building competency and capability in others and brings over 25 years of progressive experience to drive asset management, reliability, and maintenance business decisions, and to implement improvement opportunities in asset-intensive production companies.

Chapter 11: Exploring Innovation, STEM, and Entrepreneurship: A Journey of Learning and Growth

Challenging established routines and promoting creativity have always been crucial for Viktoria Ilger. These qualities were instrumental in her unconventional journey into the world of STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). With a decade of experience in the innovation sector, she is dedicated to encouraging more women to venture into this field, recognizing the pressing need for diversity in solving complex problems through innovation.

In this chapter, Viktoria shares her background, experiences, and learnings in the world of STEM disciplines. Initially drawn to finance, she eventually turned to STEM fields, particularly software development, and now works in the automotive sector. At an automotive company, she played a pivotal role in introducing a program focusing on collaboration between startups and established firms. Her passion lies in promoting social and ecological innovations, with a particular emphasis on empowering women as catalysts for innovation in this domain.

More about Viktoria

Viktoria Ilger is a dynamic business economist whose great passion is new technologies and their potential for people and the environment. After spending some time in the banking world, she dedicated herself to innovation. She started her innovation career in a small software company, where she worked closely with clients on digital business models. Over the last five years, she has been instrumental in building the AVL Startup Initiative and has led the Startup Innovation team since 2020. Viktoria is a visionary and in recent years has increasingly focused on how innovation and sustainability can go hand in hand to ensure the future viability of our planet and companies.

Chapter 12: Safety Boots to Break Glass Ceilings™

Emily Soloby’s great-great grandfather was a shoemaker from Sicily. She remembers every shoe that she has ever purchased, as these were carefully made decisions which remain with her forever. Although she loves shoes, her passion is social justice, particularly women’s rights. While her major was in women’s studies after getting an internship as a domestic violence courtroom advocate, she decided to pursue her law degree and continue her women’s advocacy work via the legal system. After practicing law, she decided to attain her master’s in broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media. Afterwards, she took an opportunity to run a truck driving school and that’s where she discovered that almost all of women’s PPE (personal protective equipment) did not fit properly. This is a huge safety risk and Emily rose to the occasion and developed her own company, Juno Jones, dedicated to creating stylish safety footwear for women.

In this chapter, she gives us insight into the early struggles of the brand and the journey into developing the designs behind the footwear. It was not an easy task developing something new to the industry, and Emily shares how decisions were made regarding the manufacturing of the boots, the launch of the company and how the pandemic almost cost them their business which was in the stages of manufacturing the boots for customers. Again with her passion for women’s advocacy burning, she decided to form a group, Hazard Girls, to help other women in male-populated fields who needed some form of comradery, commiseration and discussion. Eventually, she also became a host of the Hazard Girls podcast, where she gets to highlight women making a difference in male-populated fields.

More about Emily

Emily Soloby, MA, JD, is Founder of Juno Jones, The Stylish Safety Boot Company™; Co-Owner of AAA School of Trucking, and Creator and Host of the top 5% ranked Hazard Girls Podcast and Community. She has been on a mission to help women from the beginning of her career. While earning her BA in Women's Studies, Emily worked as a domestic violence victim advocate. During law school she served as Legal Intern at the National Organization for Women in DC, which solidified her passion for advocacy work. Following law school, Emily worked as a trial attorney with Legal Aid, helping women and children in family law and domestic violence cases. She went on to receive her master’s degree in broadcasting.

As a lifelong boot lover, Emily spent time learning the craft of shoe-making in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and the Brooklyn Shoe Space in New York. In 2009, she and her husband Ryan took over AAA School of Trucking, a truck and heavy equipment safety training firm, which she has helped grow into a national business. It was during her years there that she noticed the footwear problem—there wasn’t any! Determined to create safety boots that she’d actually want to wear, Emily assembled a team to bring Juno Jones to life.

Juno Jones creates award winning safety boots made especially for a woman’s foot shape, with safety features to keep you protected on the job site. With high level protection plus all day comfort and style, the Juno Jones line is expanding to meet an even wider audience.

Emily sits on committees with Women in Trucking, and Empowering Women in Industry. Her work has been featured in art exhibits including the Stuart Weitzman “Walk This Way” exhibit at the Michener Art Museum. Emily spent 2020 and 2021 as a designer in residence at the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy's, and she's been featured in over 60 publications , including Women's Wear Daily, Footwear News, and ABC-TV.

Her awards include the 2021 Empowering Women in Industry Woman of the Year Title, 2022 Comcast Rise Award, 2023 Women'sNet Distinguished Business Winner, 2023 Women in Trucking Top Women to Watch in Transportation, and 2023 Visa She's Next in Fashion Award and most recently Juno Jones received a National Safety Council Best in Show 2023 award.

Emily lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her husband and business partner Ryan, their children, and a very loud hound dog. For fun she enjoys rooftop restaurants, karaoke, and relaxing with her family in the Pocono Mountains.

Chapter 13: Intersectionality: How to Transform Headwinds to Tailwinds


Erika Anderson (In Remembrance)

Asset Health Leader, Georgia-Pacific, LLC, IF/THEN Collection

For Erika Anderson, a relatively young, disabled, queer, black woman working as a mechanical engineer in the “boys’ club” that is the manufacturing industry, the road to both get there and stay there has certainly not been free of discrimination resulting from her social identity. In this chapter, Erika gives us some insight into the ways that she transformed the headwinds meant to keep her from progressing to the tailwinds which enabled her to evolve and achieve success.

She recounts her educational experiences from being in the minority in the classroom, excluded from particular classes because of the background of her school, and how she gathered the courage to change the things that she could and accept those that she could not. She also dives into the “Prove it again” bias, which many women in male-dominated industries undergo but is not often talked about. This exists where women present information or findings which are quickly dismissed, and they are asked to redo it and prove it again; whereas if a male counterpart produced the same findings, it would be taken seriously. She gives some advice on dealing with this type of situation and not allowing professional stigmas define you. Erika provides some guidance on navigating similar-type situations and the importance of having employee resource groups as well as making connections.

More about Erika

Atlanta native Erika Anderson, MS, is a self-proclaimed education enthusiast who graduated with honors with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from Spelman College and Georgia Institute of Technology, respectively. Upon completing her undergraduate degrees, Erika began her career in the petrochemical industry. After rotating through various engineering roles, she found reliability engineering to be her niche and has thus been growing her skill set in this area ever since. Six years into her career, Erika heard the call of education once again and happily answered by pursuing a master’s degree in analytics at Texas A&M. Shortly after completing her graduate degree, she transitioned to the paper and packaging industry, where she works today as an Asset Health Leader ensuring reliable operations of paper mills and converting plants across the United States.

Although engineering feeds her wallet, Erika always emphasizes that STEM outreach feeds her soul, as it is her true passion. Due to her STEM-related community involvement over the years, she was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies to be an IF/THEN Ambassador. The mission of this organization is to expose more girls to STEM fields because it is known that if she can see it, then she can be it. As one of 125 women in STEM chosen to be Ambassadors, Erika has been featured on television and in books, and even has a full-sized statue that was featured at the Smithsonian Museum along with the other IF/THEN Ambassadors.

Erika doesn’t have any kids, but she is the proud dog mom to Ladii, her Australian shepherd, adopted by her and her late husband, Wick Anderson, 10 years ago. Although her husband is no longer here physically, Erika takes pride in knowing that she is cultivating the seeds they planted together by furthering their mission to prepare scholars for academic success through STEM outreach. When passion meets purpose, the opportunities are endless!

Unfortunately Erika is no longer with us but her story lives on to inspire others. 

Chapter 14: The Journey to Becoming The First Wellness Engineer

Headshot Lennis Perez

Lennis Perez

Chief Wellness Engineer, Just Lennis, LLC 

Having an analytical nature and then being told that cancer was part of your diagnosis can change your life forever. For Lennis Perez, who grew up in Venezuela but in her late teen years moved to the United States as her father was assigned to work at the United Nations as a military advisor, this diagnosis challenged her to re-evaluate her entire life. She started to reflect on some major events in her life, from pausing her freshman year at a top engineering school in Venezuela because of the move with her family to the United States, to reflecting on the various challenges immigrants face when moving to a new country.

In this chapter, Lennis gives some insight into the transitioning between jobs and the personal side of her life which made her question, “Is this all to life?” She also talks about mental health and how seeing a therapist helped her tremendously to uncover her battles with perfectionism, which she had confused with ambition and having high standards. She shares about her father falling ill and how she managed everything, which led to her being burned out and with the cancer diagnosis. Lennis provides us with her journey to rediscovering herself and finding the human beneath it all which has led her to become the first wellness engineer.

More about Lennis

Lennis Perez is the founder and chief wellness engineer at Just Lennis, LLC, a wellness consulting company focusing on helping organizations and individuals implement stress management strategies to prevent burnout and improve efficiency, productivity, and overall well-being. Through her workshops, events, and individual mentoring, she teaches professionals in STEM how to manage stress in practical and sustainable ways to ultimately become the conscious leaders and role models of well-being in their workplace. She has a Master of Science in chemical engineering with over 16 years of experience in industry. She is also an international public speaker, certified meditation teacher and coach. Combining her master’s in chemical engineering with her meditation and coaching practice, she brings a unique but relatable approach to wellness in STEM.

Chapter 15: Dr. Kenya’s Nonlinear Journey: The Intersection of Science, Education, and Policy


Dr Kenya L. Goodson

Climate and Sustainability Coordinator, Hometown Action

Intersectionality often breeds unique characteristics which can go on to further define us in our career and personal journeys. Dr. Kenya Goodson is no stranger to having a nonlinear path, in fact, she embraces all of the detours and sometimes seemingly unrelated experiences. She focused on getting an education to have a better life and to prove to naysayers that she was valuable. Through community service projects, she got introduced to the possibility of having an environmental career which is a true intersection of natural, life and social science. In this chapter, Dr. Kenya talks about her struggles in becoming the first-generation PhD of color in her family. She also gives some insight into how her transition from a bachelor’s and master’s in non-engineering fields did not prepare her for a PhD in civil engineering. Yet, she was the first woman of color to graduate with a PhD from the civil engineering program at her university. Even though she felt like a failure and decided to move back home, it was during this time that she discovered her gift and love for teaching. She shares how volunteering and working with the church helped her during this time as well as ways she paid it forward for other students of color.

More about Kenya

Dr. Kenya L. Goodson is an environmental engineer, educator, community organizer, and climate policy advocate who focuses on developing solutions to systemic concerns in environmental health, environmental justice, and climate resiliency. She is a native of West End Tuscaloosa, with close proximity to the Black Warrior River. She received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Alabama, where she was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in her department. She has acquired over nine years of experience in wastewater management, stormwater quality, and environmental regulation before transitioning in academia and community engagement. She served as faculty teaching environmental science and other STEM courses at the University of Montevallo and Stillman College, respectively. Dr. Goodson is also very involved in the community. She volunteers for several environmental boards. Her volunteer work as a board member focuses on environmental education and outreach, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and environmental justice. She is also an advocate for climate change legislation and has been lobbying members of Congress in Alabama as a volunteer representative for climate organizations.

Dr. Goodson currently works as Climate and Sustainability Coordinator for Hometown Action/Hometown Organizing Project, where she builds community relationships to organize for climate resilience initiatives in rural communities impacted by climate-related disasters.

Chapter 16: Women Redefining Work-Life Balance in STEM: Integrating Parenthood into the Equation

“An engineer walks into the room . . .”. What does the engineer look like to you? What specific distinctions make them an engineer? Did you imagine a woman? Sarah Marie Bilger acknowledges the gender imbalance within STEM fields, but she’s also working towards making a change. While she talks in this chapter about the factors that contribute to gender imbalance, she also explains some initiatives which encourage more women in STEM.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace start with demonstrating support for others and making sources available to them. It also includes highlighting women and sharing their success stories for others in the field to let them become more familiar with these roles. She also talks about the role of motherhood and allowing a safe space for expecting and returning mothers to the workplace. Simply having open conversations about lactation rooms or mental health can make a huge difference for women in the workplace.

Even providing support after becoming a parent is critical to both men and women as they return to work while thinking about leaving their newborn baby for the first time or still healing from caesarean sections while trying to navigate simple tasks such as logging into the computer. Sarah provides some insightful information on her journey and ways to help redefine that work-life balance especially for parents in STEM fields.

More about Sarah

Sarah Marie Bilger has eight-plus years’ experience in mechanical engineering and holds a Bachelor of Science in energy engineering from Penn State University. She received her Engineer in Training (EIT) certification in 2015 and is working towards obtaining her PE in mechanical HVAC engineering. Her professional experience has taught her several key skills, including managing multiple complex projects simultaneously, working as part of a team, and developing excellent time management and organizational skills. Her multi-passionate personality has led her to become involved with the creation, editing, producing, hosting, and guest appearing for several podcast shows across various platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. She effectively communicates about her experience and actively sparks curiosity on various topics pertaining to her personal and professional life on her own podcast called Entering Motherhood.

Being a woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) herself, Sarah is highly passionate about others pursuing a career in STEM and advocates for inclusion and representation of women in the workplace. As a new mother of two, she also recognizes the importance of working mothers and the impact it has on our future to be able to accommodate the lifestyles of working parents.

Chapter 17: Female AND an Engineer? Exploring the Gender-Occupation Identity Dilemma in Engineering

Helen Sara Johnson - June 2023

Helen Sara Johnson

Doctoral Research & HR Practitioner, Loughborough University and Manufacturing Technology Centre (part of the UK Catapult Network)

Being female and an engineer can prove challenging, but what role does authenticity play in an engineering career? Helen Sara Johnson explores this question as her PhD thesis statement and shares what she has found in this chapter. She explores the following questions, “How can I be authentic when I am female working in an environment typically designed and led by males? How can I be authentic when I am in the minority group? How can I fit in without fitting in?” She talks about the fact that 57% of female engineers will leave the UK engineering industry by the age of 45, as opposed to 17% of male engineers.

She explores the façade of conformity, in which female engineers feel the need to wear a mask and conform to their environment, and how this directly affects their work performance and job satisfaction. Many female engineers also experience microaggressions and sex discrimination in the workplace. Helen recounts how many of those she interviewed had to work harder, fight stronger and be exceptional in their environment to stand out. She develops the relationship between identity, authenticity and work outcomes and explains her findings in this chapter. Additionally, she shares a three-step approach to help both women and allies of women to be more authentic.

More about Helen

Helen Sara Johnson is a doctoral researcher (and possibly, by the time you read this chapter, a Doctor of Philosophy) from England, UK. She is also a HR practitioner at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Her academic accomplishments, BA (Hons), MA and LLM, align with a successful HR career spanning over 20 years. Inspired to give something back, she has presented her research through academia and industry, engaging with organisations including Jaguar Land Rover and the UK Catapult Network. Outside of academia, Helen is an autistic ADHDer, a champion of well-being and neurodiversity, has a passion for endurance running and is a proud cat mum. Helen’s PhD thesis will be available through the Loughborough University Research Repository as and when completed. To engage with Helen to discuss her research, she can be contacted via Loughborough University, UK.

Chapter 18: Allow Them to Answer the Call

Shane woods

Shane Woods

Executive Director, Girlstart

“How do I support my child who loves STEM?” is a question that Shane Woods frequently gets asked by most parents. Quite often, this question is followed by some comments from nostalgic adults who recall that they never liked math or science or they had an awful teacher. She is tasked with transforming a fixed mindset to one ready to embrace growth not just in children but with those who they spend most of their time with outside of school. In this chapter, Shane explores the three main challenges faced by students in the K-12 system and solutions to these challenges. She also discusses the importance of increasing access to STEM for girls, as this can help to empower them in the future.

Shane is the Executive Director of Girlstart, which is a nationally recognized informal STEM education program focused on sustaining an ecosystem that thrives on peer support and positive youth development. This nonprofit is aimed towards bringing greater awareness to girls about careers in STEM. Shane also provides some guiding questions to help readers during their evaluation of STEM programs to discover if it is suited for their child. She also talks about the importance of having conversations about women in STEM roles and introducing these to the younger generation, as this will help them to identify with others and allow them to answer the call.

More about Shane

Shane Woods began her career as a middle school science teacher in the Fort Worth Independent School District. In her 17 years with the district, Shane was able to make her mark in every position she held, from department chair to leading the entire district as the K-12 Science Director overseeing curriculum and assessment development, while supporting teachers in honing their skills through year-long professional learning opportunities.

From 2019 to 2022, Shane acted as Senior Director of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence, which is a 92-acre living laboratory where kids of all ages can explore and develop their competence and confidence in science, technology, engineering and math – all while cultivating essential skills such as confidence, resilience, leadership, risk taking and problem solving. In her newest role, Shane serves as Executive Director for Girlstart, a nonprofit focused on empowering girls in science, technology, engineering and math. She remains active in the formal and informal education community as a highly-sought-after nationally recognized and award-winning leader and speaker in science education, equity in STEM and leadership.

She has made appearances on several podcasts such as Quietly Visible and enjoys teaching as a part of a panel for nonprofits like Play Like a Girl. As a communicator who immediately establishes a rapport with those in attendance, Shane can speak to any size group from a small staff on Zoom to a room full of statewide science leaders. Shane also gives back to the community through the leadership positions she holds in organizations that champion youth development and education such as the National Science Education Leadership Association, the American Camp Association and the Texas Girls Collaborative Project.

Chapter 19: Through It All, the Why Was My Motivator

Living in Colombia, following your passion to pursue industrial engineering as it speaks to your project-manager soul sounds like the perfect way to begin your journey in engineering. Claudia Gomez-Villeneuve started on this path, but after her first year in school her family got the approval for their immigration to Canada.

While it took her two years to resume her studies in engineering in a colder atmosphere, she did. However, she had to prove herself first before gaining admission, even if it meant calling up the university directly and speaking to Admissions. Although her journey began with industrial engineering, she had to switch to civil engineering in this new country.

In this chapter, Claudia describes how she navigated school and offers tips for condensing your master’s degree to achieve more experience even though it had never been done before. Claudia also gives us some insight into how she put her project management and multitasking skills to use during her undergraduate degree as she had gotten married and had her first baby on the way.

She even delves into some of the scars she had to face with her first birth and the challenges which arose in the workplace when they heard of her second pregnancy. She talks about being demoted after returning to work and then how she ensured that she got the experience to qualify as a professional engineer before she got certified. Again, Claudia led the way in asking for part-time work and explained how this helped her to balance her time between family and work.

She shares some insight into how to get into a management position and what it requires from the employee (even if that means an increase in salary before you are considered!). Claudia provides us with her motivator which has helped her to push through many obstacles, including helping her to secure a management position and deciding not to leave the engineering field.

More about Claudia

Claudia Gomez-Villeneuve, P.Eng, M.Eng, PMP, DTM, FEC, FGC (Hon.), was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. In Canada she was a pipeline project engineer for almost 16 years and now teaches engineering and project management at various universities in both English and Spanish. Claudia won the 2019 APEGA Summit Award as a Champion for Women in Engineering. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with her husband and their three children. You can catch her next hybrid delivery of the Women in Engineering Summit, WES, by visiting www.womeninengg.ca

Chapter 20: A Woman in a Man’s World or a Person in a Person’s World?


Angelica González

Maintenance Systems Engineer, Hexpol Compounding Americas

Growing up in a traditional Mexican family has provided Angelica González with the fundamental values which have helped her to overcome many of the challenges she has faced in her career. In this chapter, she talks about having to go to the city to study for a technical career initially against the wishes of her father, who later allowed her to do so. She speaks about the decision to choose career paths and how a scholarship in mechatronics engineering helped her to move into this industry. Angelica also talks about the importance of standing up for yourself even though you may be in a man’s world and how the support of male allies can make the difference.

Additionally, she provides us with some insight into how she broke the news to her family about pursuing an internship in Puerto Rico and dealing with their responses to her dream. After entering the industry, she was constantly being told from clients that they did not work with females; however, in spite of this, she continued to work harder and let her results speak for themselves. She gives several pieces of advice for women in a male-dominated industry where the underlying theme is to continue to be a person in a person’s world.

More about Angelica

Angelica González, at 28 years of age, is a first-time author. She grew up in a traditional Mexican family in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She has a bachelor’s in mechatronics engineering from the Polytechnic University of Aguascalientes and an MFA in web design and digital marketing from the Cuauhtémoc University of Aguascalientes. After starting in the engineering world, she embarked upon a career as a self-driver, and an active continuous improvement practitioner in the maintenance and reliability industry.

Along her way from high school, college, and her personal life, she has been such a big inspiration to women who know her. She is an example of perseverance, consistency, and inclusion for women in a “man’s world”. She currently resides in Ohio, USA, where she works in the rubber industry as a maintenance systems engineer working with reliability and maintenance excellence.

Chapter 21: The Complex Reality: Unraveling the Underrepresentation of Women in STEM

Genevieve Cheung headshot

Genevieve Cheung 

Founder, Atticus Consulting

Delve into the intricacies of the gender gap in STEM as Genevieve Cheung navigates this subject, revealing eye-opening findings that may challenge readers’ perceptions. In her exploration, Genevieve uncovers the nuanced preferences between women and men in their career aspirations—women often gravitating towards people-oriented professions, while men are drawn to working with objects or systems. This revelation, however, only scratches the surface of a more profound analysis.

Drawing on statistical evidence, Genevieve contends that achieving gender parity in one STEM field inevitably leads to mirrored disparities in others. The delicate balance of representation emerges as a significant factor—the ascent of women in one domain invariably places them as a minority in another.

Genevieve’s perspective transcends a simple numbers game; instead, she argues for a comprehensive approach that goes beyond increasing the quantity of women in STEM. Furthermore, she advocates for an expanded definition of STEM, incorporating the “softer” sciences—like health and behavioral sciences—which focus more on human interaction and experiences. Her vision is one of balance and inclusivity, where every individual is empowered to thrive within these fields. In this chapter, readers will encounter a thought-provoking narrative that challenges assumptions and inspires action towards building a truly diverse and equitable future in STEM.

More about Genevieve

Genevieve Cheung, P.Eng, MBA, is an accomplished project manager known for her expertise in the construction industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in business administration from IE Business School. Genevieve's professional journey began as a consulting engineer in Canada, where she gained valuable experience and obtained her Professional Engineer (P.Eng) license.

She moved to the Caribbean about 10 years ago for a work opportunity, and specialized in project management for hospitality construction projects. Her niche lies in providing procurement management services, ensuring seamless project delivery from pre-construction to completion. As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry, Genevieve has firsthand experience navigating the challenges and stereotypes present in the construction world. She is on a mission to challenge the notion that construction is solely a male domain.

Genevieve firmly believes that promoting gender diversity in this industry is not just about checking boxes for diversity's sake but recognizing the unique skills and perspectives that women bring to large and complex projects. With her extensive experience and passion for empowering women in STEM, Genevieve is a trailblazer and advocate for breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings in the construction field. Genevieve started her consultancy Atticus Consulting in 2022, providing project management and procurement management services to contractors and owners.

Chapter 22: Why Is Empowering Women in STEM So Important?

Joel Leonard

Joel Leonard 

Workforce Development Consultant, MakesboroUSA

Can music help to influence the next generation of maintenance professionals? Joel Leonard explores this option in this chapter, as he came up with the idea after witnessing events which led him to believe that music can in fact unite us all. After recording a couple of songs (in multiple genres), he has seen the impact of these songs in various sectors, including aerospace to help encourage more people into maintenance.

He has helped young women across the globe (literally) to find job placements in organizations and to help them develop their technical skills through mentorship and the Makerspaces programs. He stresses that mentorship does not have to happen locally only; it can be global through the use of technology advancements, which we all have access to today.

Joel also assists with the MakesboroUSA activities for students and educators to help get more of the younger generation involved in STEM. He is an advocate for getting more women involved in the manufacturing industry and hopes that retiring generations can pass on their knowledge to the future generations through these makerspace classes.

More about Joel

A former vice president of the Association of Facilities Engineers, Joel Leonard has spent the past 30 years identifying, explaining and helping solve the problem of the maintenance crisis. His creative strategies to build awareness have taken him around the globe four times, where he has addressed international conventions, taught certification classes and gathered information to help others prepare for the maintenance crisis.

As a result of his efforts, Joel was appointed to the United States Council on Competitiveness, a national think tank whose purpose is to work with Capitol Hill and the White House to create policy that results in legislation. International corporate and governmental leaders continually seek his advice. He has been interviewed on National Public Radio and CNBC numerous times. Currently, Joel is a Workforce development Consultant both in the US and internationally for Makesboro USA. He was recently called a great technology ambassador for New Zealand by a Member of the NZ Parliament as he is currently helping to create strategies to boost NZ manufacturing. Joel is also the past chair of the National Defense Manufacturing Workforce Committee for NDIA.

Joel has been a longtime supporter of breaking stigmas and stereotypes that inhibit women from entering the skill tech and engineering sector. He created and administers the over-3500-member Wild Women Welders Facebook Group and wrote a song encouraging women to pursue the maintenance profession, called “Find Me a Maintenance Woman.” Joel is thrilled to offer insight on how to empower more women to take on STEAM-related professions.

Publishing with CRC Press/Taylor and Francis

If you’ve ever considered writing a book in your area of expertise, this is your chance!

Please contact: Cindy Renee Carelli, Executive Editor, CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Email: cindy.carelli@taylorandfrancis.com