Kristen Rubino, Senior Hydrogeologist/ES on the PWGC team, is a member of the STEM Leadership Program organized by Stony Brook University’s Center for Corporate Education.
Nine women (eight BNL employees along with Kristen, who attended as a contractor, sponsored by PWGC) attended Stony Brook University’s (SBU) inaugural “Women in STEM Leadership Program” in May to study leadership techniques, build skills, and expand their professional networks. Kristen recounts her key takeaways from the program:
I attended the Inaugural Women in STEM Leadership Program on May 8-11, 2018 along with ~30 other women from various backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. The program was organized by Stony Brook University’s Center for Corporate Education in an effort to educate women and fix the “leaky pipeline” that plagues them in STEM fields. The main goals of the program are to 1) equip women to realize their ambition and leadership potential, 2) embolden women as change makers and influencers, and 3) create an environment for best practices and leadership strategies to be shared. To be selected, applicants had to complete an on-line application which included 3 short essay questions, submit a resume, and participate in a phone interview. The course was a jam packed 3 days, full of information related to developing our career vision, learning necessary skills to help us succeed as leaders and overcome the challenge’s facing women in STEM, and gaining the knowledge to be strategic and influential, and create positive change within our organizations.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to attend this program and I cannot thank our management at PWGC enough! It provided me with knowledge and insight, a completely new outlook on my career and goals, and a network of some truly incredible women. The caliber of the instructors exceeded any expectations that I had. They came from all over the country, with different backgrounds and expertise, but they did their research, listened to each and every one of us, and really made us their common goal. They continually forced us out of our comfort zones, which gave me a new level of confidence, brought me out of my shell and transformed the way that I see myself.
The program did not end for us on May 11th. We have already completed one follow up phone call with our instructor’s to assess our progress, and have two more scheduled in the coming months. A small group of us met at Stony Brook University last month to participate in a research study on the barriers we face as women in STEM fields and the tools we have used to overcome them. The cohort was urged to connect on LinkedIn and a Facebook group has been created to promote conversation going forward. There are plans to get the entire cohort and our instructors together in the future to discuss new topics or elaborate further on the topics we covered, and develop us as mentors for the new cohorts of women as they go through the program. Dates for the November program have already been released and the application process is underway. We have all been encouraged to bring what we have learned back to our individual organizations as well, and I have been lucky enough to be involved at PWGC and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).
Since I attended the program I have held our first PWGC Women in STEM forum and the feedback was overwhelming. It was wonderful to be able to bring our women together in a place where we could share stories and experiences, provide positive feedback, and support each other. I am working on setting up our next forum for some time in September and hope it is as inspiring as the first. I currently work on a full time contract at BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II, and during the 3 day program, got to know the 8 other women who attended from BNL. These women decided to hold a presentation as a way to give back to the BNL community and thank management for supporting their attendance in the program, and they graciously included me in their endeavor. We met multiple times and put together a presentation that highlighted each of our “key” takeaways from the program. The presentation was held on Tuesday, July 24th and was a success. There were ~50 employees in attendance, from various levels and departments. There seemed to be a very genuine interest and a 15-20 minute Q&A after the presentation. I think we were all overwhelmed by the amount of questions and the positive feedback that we received. It’s one thing to feel inspired yourself and it is another to take what you have learned and inspire others!The 9 of us at BNL plan to meet again soon and discuss our path forward. At a minimum, we hope to met monthly to discuss our progress, share our successes, and continue to provide support for each other as we strive to achieve our career goals.
— Kristen Rubino