STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Tricia Berry (Texas Girls Collaborative Project)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 17, 2012
Tricia Berry, Director of the Texas Girls Collaborative Project and Director of the UT-Austin Women in Engineering Project.
Tricia Berry has 19 years of industry, nonprofit and community leadership and expertise in STEM education, STEM program assessment, STEM marketing/communication, and gender-focused STEM strategies. She leads the Texas Girls Collaborative Project, creating connections to advance gender equity in STEM. She cofounded 825 Basics, LLC, providing career strategies based on the engineering design process that enhance workplace and career success. Concurrently, she directs The University of Texas at Austin Women in Engineering Program, leading efforts to recruit and graduate engineering women. Berry’s previous employment at Dow Chemical initiated her engineering career and passion for STEM.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
STEM will solve the grand challenges our world is facing such as an aging infrastructure, access to clean water, and securing cyberspace. It starts with STEM education in the formal classroom and in afterschool programs, museums, summer camps and other informal education settings. Through education, we must get kids first excited about STEM and then continue to engage them so they pursue STEM coursework, majors and careers. We must have a diverse, educated STEM workforce to create the interdisciplinary and global solutions that will transform our lives and make the world a better place as we move into the future.
What principles do you, as a leader; apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
One of my guiding principles is that knowledge is power. The more we know and the more we share, the more we all gain. The more we can educate about STEM, the more excited teachers, students, parents and the public will be about STEM career possibilities. I use every opportunity I can to educate others on STEM issues such as inclusive STEM messaging, stereotype threat in STEM classes and fields, and the amazing career opportunities where STEM professionals will make our world a better place. I mentor students, volunteer for STEM non-profits and K-12 STEM advisory boards, and work at home with my own kids to create LEGO® masterpieces.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
We must actively recruit women to STEM classes, majors and professions and grow the pipeline of women leaders in STEM. We need to showcase how STEM is making our world a better place and impacting our health, happiness and safety. We can participate as mentors in MentorNet (www.mentornet.net) and be FabFem role models (www.fabfems.org), sharing our experiences with young women and encouraging them to pursue their passions through STEM careers. Those of us leading in STEM must be visible and vocal.
What about STEM gives you passion?
My own experiences as a STEM student and professional fuel my passion for STEM. I had amazing teachers and parents who encouraged me continually in STEM and who never made me doubt my abilities, question my choices, or wonder if girls should not be heading into STEM majors. I have had fabulous mentors and role models throughout my professional career who have encouraged me to follow my engineering, education and entrepreneurial dreams. I want all students to have the encouragement and opportunity to pursue their STEM dreams and to understand the valuable critical thinking skills, financial freedom, and workplace flexibility a career in STEM can provide.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
I am most proud of the Texas Girls Collaborative Project and the work we have done to change the landscape of STEM programs and collaborations across Texas and beyond. STEM organizations, educators and advocates across traditional silos of formal education, informal education, for-profit, non-profit, government and industry are more connected across the state, allowing us to leverage best practices, share resources, and excite more kids about STEM.