STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Mina Stewart (Verizon)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 26, 2012
Mina currently leads an organization of over 1,700 employees spread throughout the United States. The team is responsible for the overall end-to-end build of Verizon’s Wireline network infrastructure and circuit level provisioning across the network. Central to Mina’s successful leadership is her strong belief in the positive influence technology can have on children. She strongly supports community outreach efforts that help the underprivileged, at risk and disadvantaged with mentoring, training and exposure to technology. Mina holds an M.S. degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Maryland.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education creates critical thinkers and innovators. Locally and globally, people with STEM degrees are helping create treatments and cures for diseases, generating ideas for sources of energy, increasing awareness and tools to strengthen security, and providing devices that have quickly become part of our day-to-day lives from the telecommunications industry. Their work improves all of our lives. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science—10-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
With the rate at which technology is advancing, it is more important then ever that a senior leader exemplifies the following:
- Encourage change and nimbleness
- Motivate employees to operate from a place of passion and curiosity
- Act with a sense of purpose,
- Display a strength in cognitive ability, and
- Empower team members to feel confident in their abilities, challenge status quo, and disagree respectfully with others at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
Although great advancements have been made in the area of STEM, women still lag far behind in STEM fields. According to the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development, if women and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups joined the STEM workforce in proportion to their representation in the overall labor force, the shortage of STEM professionals would disappear. The barriers and obstacles to women’s advancement are numerous and complex including gender bias and a lack of mentoring. I think to gain additional traction; we need to get to young girls. Studies have shown focus in the sciences drop off as girls approach junior and high school. We need more programs specific to girls during their early education.
What is your concept of mentoring and sponsorship of others for STEM careers?
I think it is very important to communicate, to today’s youth, the importance of STEM. I set aside time to mentor college interns, as well as, sponsor youth related technological programs on behalf of Verizon.