As I was drafting my ice breaker speech for Dynamic Leadership for Pathways, I selected stories that would display my life experiences into lessons learned. Through self discovery I realized my actions led to disrupting the status quo in the work environment. My goals were to make a living, pay off student loans and have the American dream, a home of my own and end a yearly vacation or two.
A fellow Toastmaster told me, imagine want you could have changed if you were focused on changing the work environment. Subconsciously, I believe my goal was to change the world by not accepting the status quo for women the early 1980’s to a depend on a man for a living. I wanted my life on my terms.
My first professional job was with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the late 1970s, NOAA welcomed women aboard their research vessels on the Western and Eastern Marine Centers. I began my journey in 1983 as a Yeomen, with ten percent of the crew being women.
The first disruption I recall was the celebration of Father’s Day with a special Sunday dinner while skipping over Mother’s Day. The women aboard the FAIRWEATHER ignited a fire, two of them were mothers. The men were surprised with the challenge and there was a mixture of feelings on both sides. The challenge was answered with a dinner celebrating Mother’s Day the Sunday before Father’s Day. Both dinner celebrations were amazing. People learned that everyone has an identity outside of work and how to resolve an issue peacefully.
Throughout my career there have been challenges working in male dominated fields., from field technician to computer science. The percentage of women working in computer science-related professions has steadily declined since the 1990s, dropping from 35% to 25% in the last 15 years. According to the American Association of University Women,
How do we increase the opportunities for women to enter the world of science and technology? We need to mentor, coach, and encourage women through education, throughout their professional career, and that becoming a parent is not a career killer. It will take time, innovation and commitment to change attitudes and mindsets. We will create a few disruptions along the journey.