STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Dr. Linda Rosen (CTEq)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 13, 2012
Linda Rosen is the CEO of Change the Equation. Dr. Rosen has a proven track record in providing leadership to the business community in its mission to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. Her career has focused on scaling up research-based best practices. Previously, Dr. Rosen was the Senior VP for the National Alliance of Business; a Senior Advisor to U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley and led the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century; and the Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
From making critical decisions about our health care, our finances and our retirement to using smartphones and computers, we use STEM knowledge and skills every day. They illuminate the ever more complex issues that govern the future of our democracy, and it reveals to us the beauty and power of the world we inhabit. Most important, STEM is an economic imperative. Over the past 50 years, technological innovation has accounted for almost half of our nation’s economic growth, and almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM. Even during the past three years of high unemployment, job postings in STEM fields outnumbered qualified unemployed people by almost two to one. STEM is an engine of economic growth.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
A recent study by Identified, a data company, showed that engineering can be a clear path to the corner office. Combing through millions of professional profiles on Facebook to learn more about the typical CEO, the study found that CEOs were about as likely to have been engineering majors as business majors. Those who hold advanced degrees were about three times as likely to have an engineering degree as an MBA.
Maybe this shouldn't come as such a surprise. Engineers create things. They bring new ideas to market. They find new solutions to knotty problems. They invent. They see opportunity where others see insurmountable challenge. Those leadership traits are what will advance STEM learning in our nation’s classrooms.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
One of the most important things we must do is to encourage girls from an early age. Research suggests that many young girls succumb to the stereotype that they are less adept than boys at mathematics. The stereotype is pervasive and unfortunately flourishes well into adulthood without a grain of truth. Since mathematics is the language of STEM, these early biases, however subtle, have big consequences later on. Women are far less likely than men to go into areas like engineering, computer science, and physics. At a time when we need all hands on deck, that's a lot of talent to squander.
What about STEM gives you passion?
I am especially drawn to mathematics that involves creative problem-solving grounded in logical thinking. It was my seventh grade teacher who, on the first day of school, introduced me to the binary system and other number bases. I was completely captivated that what I thought were immutable truths—like 1 + 1 =2—could be represented differently yet retain the same meaning. Every day in math class from that point on was an adventure. A literate nation not only reads, it computes, investigates and innovates. I am driven to find ways to spark a similar sense of wonderment in all young people.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
The mission and accomplishments of Change the Equation make me proud. During our inaugural year, we released powerful Vital Signs reports on the condition of STEM learning in every state. We harnessed the best thinking and resources to develop tools to foster effective philanthropy and, we expanded select, high-quality STEM learning opportunities to tens of thousands of students nationwide. And that’s just the beginning: new Vital Signs, a database of effective programs, and tens of thousands of middle students exploring the excitement of STEM are coming soon!