Monday, March 31, 2014

Gaining Inspiration from Successful Women at the 2014 WISE National Conference

Francisca was part of a delegation of four CU-WISE members who recently traveled to Toronto to attend the 2014 WISE National Conference. In the next coming weeks you'll get to hear from all the delegates. Here are Francisca's impressions.

The returns of a 4-hour train ride along with three other goal oriented ladies as delegates to the Women in Science and Engineering National Conference 2014 hosted by the University of Toronto’s WISE chapter at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Toronto only proved that indeed nothing is more important in life than experience, and truly it is “The Measure of Tomorrow”. The experiences benefited between the 22-23rd of March only reiterated, the quote “Learn what not to do from the experience of others. It's cheaper than your own” (J. Winter Smith). And for the organisers, know that the purpose of providing the delegates with inspiration and direction for leading our lives as we embark upon our professional careers has totally been fulfilled.

The experiences gained from successful women who have strived against all odds to make an impact in this tidal ocean of voracious challenges, daring obstacles and unmovable barriers has left an indelible mark filling me with invaluable experience. They have painstakingly given their time, shared their experiences with me and now I know.

From Kathy Lee, President and CEO of GE Capital Canada, I have learnt to have a vision, to cultivate good relationships, to strive to continue learning, to be a wise and articulated risk taker, and have a personal brand. I have learnt to devote myself to the next idea, to give myself a year to change, survive and thrive knowing that everything would look similar when I get back. From her experiences, I now know that in the early stages of my career, when I think it is not happening I would only be surprised by how much I have learnt and how many people I know.

From Lesley-Ann Scorgie, a trusted financial advisor and best-selling author of ‘Rich by Thirty’ and ‘Rich by 40’, I have met Oprah Winfrey (Interesting!!!!). I  have learnt how to harness my financial potential by curbing excessive spending, gaining financial literacy, having good money management skills, and being financially independent by saving better, spending wisely only on things that grow in value and most importantly, increasing my income through creative ideas. Now I can follow the right path to being a self-made millionaire.

From Swati Mylavarapu, leading Canadian business growth and development at Square, I know that the term career path is not expected to be a one way street but in some cases even a maze-like road which only keeps on unfolding as I met a corner. I know that only the decision to succeed come what may and make an impact in this world of ours would in the end propel me to greater heights and navigate me through the thick bushes of the fierce career circle.

From Marilyn Mcharg, President and CEO of Dignitas International, I have learnt that investing my time in order to reach out to others just as she gave her time to many souls opening up opportunities to improved health and access to quality treatment is not only the right thing to do but also because its ripple effect travels millions of miles all over the world saving lives. I have realised that rest can only be found when working in saving the lives of people dying day-by-day from terrible diseases cutting short their lifespan untimely.

And then it was time to return. "There was no need to cry because the event was over, rather it was to smile because it happened" Dr. Seuss. Now to me, as all of these women encompassed in my experience bosom deeply rooted in my fragile framework, and knowing that “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him”  Aldous Huxley, I am back to my lectures, assignment deadlines and research thesis, with a clear goal and vision and new pool of strength to strive beyond whatever limit I had set for myself going beyond borders to explore, impact and most of all have fun as the best , unbeatable and unstoppable female Systems  Engineer the world is yet to meet. My mind once enlightened by this cannot again become dark (Thomas Paine). I am more than I was before.


Francisca F. Adaramola is a Graduate Student in Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Yourself - A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform!

International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world on March 8th. This year, the official theme is “Inspiring Change”. March is also the National Engineering Month and the theme of National Engineering Month Ontario 2014 is ‘Make a World of Difference’! [I bet you guessed where I’m going with this! And yes, I’m very excited about being a woman AND in engineering!]

I absolutely love that there is a day dedicated to women, and I couldn't help but write a post. As women, we can make a world of difference by inspiring change for more women in science, engineering, and technology. Every time, I hear girls afraid to embrace STEM careers because they might not be good at it [See myths about girls and science], or because it’s a man’s world [but again as the song says “it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”], my heart breaks a little. It’s important to close the STEM gender gap [Check out why here]. Here are few 'natural' reasons that show that women have what it takes:
  • Diane MarieChild once said that “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”. This is not only valid in the “Carrying babies” context. It also applies to a plethora of domains. Engineering is about creating, designing, transforming what was before into greater things for the humanity welfare. So, ladies … Engineering might turn out to be more natural to us than we think.
  • Engineering is about using scientific knowledge to solve problems. I find it fantastic to solve problems on a regular basis in a way that might change people's lives [It’s almost like being a superhero]. Again, women also have problem solving skills and love to help others.
  • Women’s brains do not freeze when they encounter equations or complex mathematical tables and formulas. Here are graphs that refute the idea that women are bad at Math.
  • I could go on and on with arguments but today is about celebrating Women in Science and Engineering! 
Why is it essential to do so? Because as Women in Science and Engineering, we are going against the stereotypes. We are also the ones responsible of changing implicit biases [Read Natalie’s blog post and this chapter]. Recent studies indicate that people don’t think implicitly of females being associated with STEM related careers when compared to other careers such as teacher, secretary, etc. These unconscious beliefs or implicit biases may be more powerful than explicitly held beliefs and values simply because we are not aware of them. We need to remind ourselves [yes, sometimes we hold ourselves back!] and the society that women have a lot to offer and their potential can't be reduced to just sitting and being pretty. As Nancy Rathburn said “A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”

CU-WISE is celebrating you!

Being present, leaning in and talking about our experiences as Women in STEM are ways to change these biases and have more girls embrace STEM! We are creating, nurturing and transforming the image of Women in STEM.
So Celebrate Yourself!!! You are inspiring change and making a world of difference!

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!