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Girl Power in Engineering

For my scholarly event I attended a guest lecture by Linda Curley, an engineer at General Mills. The reason that I choose this for my scholarly event is because I am a chemical engineering major. I was interested to hear what a women working in this historically male dominated field would have to say about her job.

Linda graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in chemical engineering in 1999. She has been working at General Mills for seven years. Her presentation was about her career path and how her degree has gotten her to where she is today.

Linda started with describing her job in general. She said everyone works in groups. She specifically works with the Innovation, Technology and quality group. What this group does is: makes new products, makes variations on products that they are already making, and they improve on the products they already have. In this group there are many sub-divisions and she works with the new product development group. There are eight main groups and of these eight groups, three have job opportunities for chemical engineering majors. This was encouraging for me to hear that despite getting a pretty specific degree, there are a wide variety of jobs just in one company.

The fact that everyone works in groups, was one of the most interesting things that she said during her presentation. These groups are so productive because everyone’s ideas are all collaborated into one great idea. This made me think of the feminist movement. The feminist movement is similar to this in that when everyone is working together and sharing ideas, that is when the movement is the most productive. General Mills, just like the feminist movement, cannot succeed without people working together as a team.

Another thing that I couldn’t help thinking about was when she told us that she graduated from the U of M in 1999 which meant she started school around 1995. I bet that a woman chemical engineering major back in 1995 was even more uncommon than it is now. The engineering classes that I am in right now are still mostly guys, and I know there has been an increase in women going into engineering in the last ten or so years. I really respect Linda for going into this area of study at the time that she did knowing that it was very male dominated.

Lastly, it was really good to hear that Linda has moved up the ladder in her job. She started as an Engineer 1, got promoted to an Engineer 2, then to a Sr. Engineer 1, and now she is a Sr. Engineer 2. This was encouraging to know that she has been promoted so many places with just her B.S. in chemical engineering. She doesn’t have a masters or Ph. D of any sort. It was so good to hear this because I was under the impression that it was going to be hard for me to make it in the work field if I didn’t go to some sort of school after college, which as of right now I don’t think I want to do.

All in all this presentation was very helpful for me to attend. I learned a lot of things. First off, I learned of a possible type of job that I could get once I graduate with my chemical engineering degree. This was helpful because I really haven’t looked into this very much. I have just been following this degree path because I’m interested in chemistry and engineering, but I never have really looked into what types of jobs they actually do. Secondly, it was helpful to learn that even in just one company, there are many different opportunities for someone with a degree in Chemical Engineering. This was comforting to me to hear because it means that there’s a wide variety of options for jobs. It was also encouraging when she said that she has moved up the ladder in her job. This presentation was offered to all chemical engineering students, but was part of an upper level chemical engineering class. The main thing that I took away from it was that they only have one speaker like this come in per year, and guess what, this speaker just so happens to be a woman! Now that’s cool.

Comments

I am a chemical engineering major too. I was wondering where you heard about this guest speaker, it sounded really interesting and I want to hear a women speak that is in this field. If you know of anymore can you let me know. I especially like how she was able to move up in her career and it seems like her gender doesn't play much of a role.