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A leading African American female engineers advice: STEM companies don’t do nearly enough to promote women and minorities.

September 21, 2018

 (Click on the video to watch above)

 

Granddaughter Arianna interviewed her Grandmother and leading Engineer, Corlis Murray on what she does as they tour Abbott's headquarters in Chicago.

 

 

As seni­or vice president of qual­i­ty, reg­u­la­to­ry and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices at Abbott, Corlis Murray over­sees en­gi­neer­ing and a $400 million budg­et at a com­pany with 99,000 em­ploy­ees in more than 150 count­ries. And she is one of the only Af­ri­can American women who is a top en­gi­neer at a For­tune 500 com­pany (if not the only one).

 

Murray is se­ri­ous a­bout re­cruit­ing more women and mi­nori­ties into sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing, and she wants STEM-re­lated com­panies to do more than they are doing.

 

In this post, she writes a­bout her jour­ney to the top po­si­tion she has at Abbott and what oth­er com­panies can do to di­ver­si­fy.

 

 

Account Given By Corlis Murray:

When I was 17, I dressed up each day for work in a yel­low and orange shirt to as­sem­ble tacos, bur­gers and fries at Jack in the Box. I made $1.76 an hour.

 

My boss thought I had a bright fu­ture a­head of me there, and even told me I was an i­de­al can­di­date for the com­pany’s man­ag­er track pro­gram.

Around the same time, IBM came to my in­ner-city Dallas school ask­ing to take on a sum­mer high school en­gi­neer­ing in­tern. My guid­ance coun­sel­or and math and sci­ence teach­ers rec­om­mend­ed me.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t know of any en­gi­neers in my fam­i­ly — or among my friends. In fact, I didn’t even know what an en­gi­neer did. But I quit my fast-food job for the in­tern­ship op­por­tu­ni­ty. My moth­er, who had no i­de­a what en­gi­neer­ing was, sup­port­ed my decision.

 

Today, I’m one of the only Af­ri­can American women I know of who is a top en­gi­neer at a For­tune 500 com­pany. I over­see en­gi­neer­ing and a $400 million budg­et at a com­pany with 99,000 em­ploy­ees in more than 150 count­ries.

 

Still, the lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women and mi­nori­ties in STEM is stub­born­ly per­sist­ent. With the world's population made up of half men and half women, just 15 to 25 percent of people work­ing in STEM are women, and only 1 in 7 en­gi­neers is a woman. And just 1 in 50 is an Af­ri­can American woman.

 

The issue is not a lack of in­ter­est or de­sire. The prob­lem is that many young women and mi­nori­ties with an ap­ti­tude for math and sci­ence nev­er ex­plore re­lated fields and nev­er con­vert to work­ing in them, be­cause they are not ex­posed or en­cour­aged in a way that helps them see what could be pos­si­ble.

That is trag­ic. It’s also mend­a­ble.

 

I keep this issue close to heart in every decision I make. Seven years ago, I found­ed a high school STEM in­tern­ship pro­gram at Abbott, where 60 percent of our in­terns are women and 50 percent are mi­nori­ties — we source in­terns from di­verse schools near areas where we op­er­ate. At ages as young as 15, the interns are work­ing on high-vis­i­bil­i­ty pro­jects, such as Freestyle Libre, a de­vice that eliminates the need for pain­ful, rou­tine fingerpricks for people with diabetes.

 

Of these in­terns, 97 percent go on to ma­jor in a STEM field in col­lege, ad­dress­ing the very real issue that mi­nori­ties and women tend not to choose these sorts of degrees.

 

But the fix is big­ger than my com­pany or me. It’s big­ger than a hashtag, a sum­mer camp or a STEM day.

 

We need people in pow­er­ful po­si­tions — edu­ca­tors, policymakers, sci­en­tists — to join together to reach girls and mi­nori­ties early, paint­ing a pic­ture for them of what the fu­ture could look like. These are our not-so-dis­tant-fu­ture in­ven­tors who will cre­ate the next life-chan­ging tech­nolo­gies that will be on the shelves, in doctors’ hands and in­side hu­man bod­ies, re­defin­ing what’s pos­si­ble.

 

But it takes a vil­lage — of par­ents, teach­ers and com­panies — to help girls and mi­nori­ties re­al­ize their po­ten­tial.

 

 

Check out the rest of Corlis Murrays advice on what we should do to help females and minorities here:  Leading Female Engineers Advice For Getting Females and Minorities involved in S.T.E.M. Education

 

What are your thoughts, and what women do you know involved in a S.T.E.M. career? We'd love to hear from you!

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