Friday, July 11, 2014

STEM Chat: Courtney Tanenbaum, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Today, we start our series which looks at the women that are making an impact in STEM in preparation for our first Women in STEM event this fall. Our first interview features an interview with Courtney Tanenbaum, Senior Researcher, STEM Marketing & Research Lead, American Institutes for Research (AIR).

The person who inspired me the most when I was growing up was my grandfather. He was kind, funny, always ready with a hug, and always inventing things—both in the kitchen and in his garage! As I got older, he also listened to all of my ideas with such thoughtfulness and interest; he truly made me believe I could accomplish anything I wanted.

To me, the greatest mathematician/technologist/scientist/engineer is Amelia Earhart. A woman who broke the mold, and inspired the adventurer in all of us!

If I could tell a young woman pursuing STEM one thing, it would be "persist".

If I could meet one person it would be Eleanor Roosevelt.

My favorite non-fiction book is "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton" by Jerome Karabel.

My favorite fiction book is Jane Eyre. Although I was recently introduced to a different kind of love story, "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics." For anyone who loves STEM and appreciates the creativity and artfulness of science, this is a love story for you!

My favorite source of industry news is Science. The most recent edition is a special issue on the science of equity. I love how they bring to light how integral science and technology are for solving the world's biggest challenges.

To me a successful woman is a woman who is confident in herself, is meaningful in her work, and always willing to listen and learn more.

My favorite technological innovation is Facetime/Skype. Being able to interact with loved ones myself, and to share my son's growth, laughter, and playfulness, with those who are far away with more than just voice, is truly a gift.

In high school, I wish I knew that I actually was good at math and science.

When I first started to work in my field I never realized the issues of equity and opportunity in STEM, and how critically important exposure to STEM is early in one's life in ensuring the widest array of choices to all individuals. My dream project is visiting the schools and institutions that have successfully fostered STEM talent in neighborhoods and within communities that are too often overlooked or underserved in these fields; and then sharing their strategies and successes to motivate change in behavior, practices, and perceptions among others.

The best advice I ever received was if you don't understand something, ask!

In my free time I...Yikes?! What free time…when I do find some, I curl up with a big book (and not a kindle, but an old fashioned hardback or paperback)!

The best way to unwind after a long day is a nice long walk with loved ones or friends.

The smartest person I've ever worked with...There are too many to name just one! But, I recently attended the Advancing Equity in STEM Symposium in Washington, DC and the physics teacher from a STEM-focused charter school served on one of the panels. A fantastically smart woman when it comes to engaging youth in STEM, and someone anyone would be lucky to work with, I imagine.

My favorite city in the world is Seattle. Perhaps not as exciting as it sounds, but it reminds me of home and I love the water, the mountains, the food, and the coffee!

If I had a one year sabbatical, I would travel and read lots and lots of books.

The biggest misconception about women in STEM is that they are different than other women.

My tools of the trade are in broadening participation in STEM research, I find the most useful "tools" are attending events on the issue, reading diverse perspectives and ideas, and asking questions!

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is the emerging focus on changing STEM cultures and environments (rather than "fixing" individuals) to successfully engage a wider array of diverse individuals in the STEM community.

I'm happiest when I'm with family and friends.

I lead by sharing my passion and interest for the work with my team. I'm proud that I push myself to accomplish what is important to me in all aspect of my life—career, family, friends, and health.

The first STEM Summit will take place October 21, 2014 at the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University, in Waltham, MA. Find out more about the program by downloading the agenda.  Want to join us?  Register today.

This post is co-posted with the STEAM Accelerator blog.

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