Thriving not Surviving

Strategies to go from merely surviving to THRIVING for women in STEM

Adapting is Critical

Well we are closing in on the end of 2020, a year full of upheaval and uncertainty. I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t felt the pressures of the year. Figuring out how to work from home, go to school from home, find a new job, figure out how to safely navigate shopping, and how to keep ourselves and our family healthy have pushed many of us into exhaustion. It seems like for every step forward we uncover a new challenge.

These crazy times give us an opportunity to grow skills that apply to work as well as to life. We are faced with constant change in the world around us right now. How do we handle it? Do we pull back and hide from it all? Do we step forward and look for a way forward? Do we step back and look for options? Do we charge ahead without a plan just to get through it? These are all decisions we make, often without conscious thought, each time a new situation hits us.

Like the fight or flight response that is natural we find ourselves holding tight to what was or...

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Interesting Perspective

It seems like too many people only want to see what they want to see. When we close our perspective down to what is known and comfortable, we stop learning. Additionally, our credibility can start to be eroded because we deem anything outside our accepted perspective as “wrong”. The reality is that we don’t know everything that is possible, nor do we know what others have experienced unless we open our eyes.

Leaders need to be able to create a vision for the future, so people know where they are headed. For that vision to resonate with others it must connect to their perspectives. With the huge variety in people’s experiences, priorities, and concerns being able to share the vision in terms of other people’s perspectives helps gain acceptance. If a leader speaks only from their perspective they are missing out on the connection with others, and you can’t lead if you don’t have followers.

I think all of us have had a boss or other leader who...

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Do You See What I See?

Over the last few days, I’ve been watching all the comments about the Vice-Presidential Debate. Not because I am polling people’s political stance, but rather because I’m curious about the perceptions of how the two candidates performed. I’ve been fascinated by the responses to Kamala Harris.

What I’m seeing looks a lot like gender bias and the fine line women walk when attempting to be assertive. This isn’t a new topic; I’ve seen articles going back to the mid-1980s on the perceived differences in how men and women leaders communicate. What’s is striking to me is that little seems to have changed in the last 25 years.

One description for this is that it is a double-bind for women. Most desirable leadership traits are masculine in nature: confident, bold, assertive, focused, decisive, among others. However, women are expected to be collaborative, empathetic, and compassionate. We have learned a bias that is gender based. Leaders are...

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Taking the High Road

integrity respect trust Sep 30, 2020

Growing up I heard that it was better to take the high road, by which my mother meant don’t sink to the same level as the people who bullied, cheated or took short cuts. It was not an easy lesson to hold on to in high school or college. It seemed so unfair at times that others were getting ahead while I was taking the long way around. I did learn that it didn’t pay to go low, at least for me.

My definition of taking the high road is to treat others with respect and behave professionally in all situations. This is hard when the people around you aren’t acting the same way.

In several jobs I had to deal with bullies as well as navigating the mine field of well-connected co-workers who would take undue credit via shortcuts. These situations created experiences that were toxic for me and yet I couldn’t throw in the towel quickly. So, I stuck to the high road and even though nothing really changed I could feel good about my behavior.

Here are 4 reasons for...

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How dare you sit at the table!

I walked into the conference room about 5 minutes before the meeting time. There were several guys already in the room chatting. I sat down at the table and said hi to a few that I knew. Several of the men in the room were giving me a side-eye look, obviously wondering why I dared to sit at the table. This was outside their experience for these weekly meetings. The women who attended sat in the back, along the wall and took notes. They didn’t sit at the “big boy” table. Wrong! As QA Manager had some items they needed to hear, and I was not sitting in the back. I belonged at the table just like they did. Once I was introduced and some of the senior men on my team deferred to me, attitudes changed, albeit slowly.

The reality was I was 25 years into my career and really didn’t care what the men in the room thought of me being in my role. I knew what I brought to the table and was comfortable with it. Honestly, it was kind of fun making some of them squirm.

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Why are you on this team?

credibility teamwork Sep 16, 2020

Over the past week I’ve heard several women comment on statements from male team members that question why the woman is on that team or how they got there. Grrr…. These comments make my blood boil. There was an implied and inherent assumption that the woman couldn’t be qualified to be on the team, despite years of relevant experience and expertise. Fortunately, the women involved had heard it before and quickly put the guy in his place.

My mind then started wandering back the Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” because there seems to be an absence of trust (Dysfunction #1) on these teams. Lencioni uses the word trust in the context of being confident that each team member has good intentions and it’s acceptable to be vulnerable with each other. The phase he uses that resonates for me is “Members of teams with an absence of trust …. Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without...

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Enough People Pleasing Already

assertiveness balance Sep 10, 2020

There are so many demands on our time right now. Work from home, homeschooling, virtual meetings galore, house work, cooking, self-care, child-care, and on and on. The list seems endless on a good day and 2020 has seemingly eliminated those. We have so much to do between our families and our work.

Do you feel that you need to jump in at work to help at work whenever asked? That’s great – until it takes away from the things that are important to you. Are you overwhelmed because you are scrambling to get your work done because of the time spent helping others? If so, it’s time to step back and gain perspective.

It is important to help others, that is one of key requirements of being a part of a team. However, your personal success is dependent on what you get done. You must be someone who gets things done in order to move up. So how do you find the right balance?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this request take away from a critical task I already have to...
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Tap into Your Inner Strength

inner strength resiliance Sep 02, 2020

During these difficult times it can be hard to find the strength to keep going. It seems like every day brings new challenges and worries. Yet we don’t have the option to stop and do nothing, life is calling us. How do we keep going?

The key to making it work is to tap into your inner strength. It’s at the core of your being, it helps define who you are and where you will go. Often it sits there quietly, lending us the courage to move ahead without us even realizing it.

Some of you may be familiar with the movie Steel Magnolias, a comedy-drama focusing on the bonds of women in a small southern town. The name implies the women can be strong as steel and as delicate as flowers. Having a mother who was raised in the deep south, who the epitome of a steel magnolia. She faced some interesting challenges throughout her adult life, including becoming a widow at 55 with a kid (me) in college. Mom never went back to work, but she became a tutor for an adult who couldn’t...

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Improve your mindset by shifting your focus

focus mindset Aug 26, 2020

Are you finding yourself struggling with the chaos, the negative, fear and confusion right now? If so, you are like most people right now. We are facing so many changes, conflicting information and uncertainty as our society moves towards a new normal.

The challenge for most of us is that wallowing in our despair isn’t productive or conducive to a happy life. While tempting, we don’t feel good when we embrace the chaos and negativity. Our jobs, family and health are impacted by it all. How do we avoid this sink hole?

First, we need to acknowledge the feelings that we are experiencing. Admit this is hard and we are worried about the future. Recognize where you are right now and accept it. Our feelings are part of us and yet they don’t have to define us or drive our actions.

Next, identify where you would like to be. Are you ready to find a more positive outlook on things? Are you willing to look for the possibilities of a better outcome? If so, admit that it’s...

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Mind Your Mindset

How do you look at your ability to handle problems, challenges, plan changes, or the unexpected? Do you see it as insurmountable or a hurdle you will get over? Do you get stuck in your feelings or do you get fired up to find a solution?

These are indicators of your mindset towards problems. They show you if you are inclined towards a fixed or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset the belief is that it is what it is, and it can’t improve or get better. This is particularly true for skills, knowledge and abilities. A growth mindset sees the possibilities to learn more, grow and overcome challenges. As complex creatures we always have some of both in us. We may have a fixed mindset towards some things, like my ability to be an athlete, while having a growth mindset in other areas, like my ability to create a website.

With all the challenges facing us right now how we approach them will have a huge impact on the outcome. When we think of it as a problem to solve, we open our...

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