The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

Content

Jonsson School Hosts Panel on Women in Engineering

Jonsson School Hosts Panel on Women in Engineering

2016-2017 YWISE Winners Announced

To wrap up the yearlong celebration of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science 30th anniversary, some of Texas’ top women technical leaders came to campus to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women in STEM careers.

The panel included: Danielle Griffith, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Texas Instruments Inc.; Betsy Wilson, VP Business Operations at Ericsson; Amy Wheelus, Asst. Vice President of Advanced Technology Realization at AT&T Inc.; and Dr. Sharon L. Wood, Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering and Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #14 at UT Austin.

Before the panel, the invited guests met with teams of female high school students from the Young Women in Science and Engineering Investigators Program (YWISE). The YWISE program’s main purpose is to promote scientific research in a team environment and to provide real world research and design experience to increase high school student's interest in STEM fields. Industry professionals and UT Dallas faculty and staff mentor students on an academic, year-long science project, where high school and community college juniors or seniors from low socio-economic backgrounds engage in a team-based approach to research and design. The top three ranked teams at the end of the project poster competition are eligible to apply for scholarship support to attend UT Dallas.

From left: Dr. Inga Musselman, Betsy Wilson, Amy Wheelus, Dr. Sharon L. Wood and Danielle Griffith

The panel was moderated by UT Dallas’ Dr. Inga Musselman (far left) and included (from left to right): Betsy Wilson, Amy Wheelus, Dr. Sharon L. Wood and Danielle Griffith.

A team of girls from L.V. Berkner High School took first place in this year’s YWISE competiton with their project “Drone as Locator.” Their programmable quadcopter showed how drones often end up in hard-to-reach places or in dark areas, but with 3D mapping technology, laser scanners or multi-spectral cameras, a drone can navigate these tricky environs easier.

Both UT Dallas President Dr. Richard C. Benson and Dean of the Jonsson School Dr. Mark W. Spong gave opening remarks, welcoming the group of panelists to the event. UT Dallas’ Dr. Inga Musselman, Interim Provost, moderated the panel discussion.

“There has been significant progress in terms of women leadership in recent years, yet women still hold a relatively small share of the top leadership jobs,” Musselman said. “There are various arguments for bringing more women into the highest levels of corporate power and technical leadership: some may say it is a world issue; that it is the right things to do; others may stress that having more diverse viewpoints brings about better governance. Then there is the persuasive argument that when you can draw from a much larger pool of people that you get the benefit of much more talent.”

The group of panelists shared their stories of how they became leaders in their respective fields - from academia and gaining tenure to ascending the ranks of the corporate world.

Dr. Sharon L. Wood, Dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin, shared her story about taking risks and building confidence.

“You can do incredible things if you have the confidence in yourself,” Wood said. “When I started as dean, it was a little overwhelming. I took a risk and it has paid off -- I love my job, but I had to give myself the confidence.”

Betsy Wilson, VP Business Operations at Ericsson, gave her story of how she became a successful woman technical lead and the challenges she faced on her journey.

“My first job took me to Finland,” Wilson shared. “People would stop and stare at me in my office. When I asked why they were staring, I found out that I was the first female technical developer in the company. I approached a lot these types of situations with humor. You have to take it for what it is -- everyone is a trailblazer in their own way.”

The audience gave a loud applause when Wilson revealed that she also beat cancer along the way.

“I’ve been cancer free for 15 years,” Wilson said. “When I came back, I went back on the front lines.”

The panelists also discussed how to spot and overcome unconscious bias toward women and others in the workplace.

“We have to all look at ourselves and realize we all have biases we don’t recognize,” said Amy Wheelus, Asst. Vice President of Advanced Technology Realization at AT&T Inc. “No matter how unbiased we think we are, we have them. How we act on those biases is what we control. We have to be willing to reach out and talk about it.”

The panelists fielded questions from students, faculty, staff and community members from the audience.

When asked what some of the challenges were that they faced when first entering the work force and how they approached these challenges, Dr. Musselman revealed that she was the only female faculty at UT Dallas for the first 15 years of her career at the University. She was proud to say there are now more than 120 female faculty members teaching on campus.

Over the past year, the Jonsson School celebrated its 30th anniversary with distinguished lectures from invited guests, including a visit from Bill Nye.

YWISE winners from L.V. Berkner High School

A team of girls from L.V. Berkner High School took first place in this year’s YWISE competiton with their project “Drone as Locator.”


Footer

Departments