All men are created equal. Products are manmade with manpower. Machines are manned by workmen who measure their time in man-hours!
The problem of creating equality in STEM careers runs deep. The issues are so profoundly engrained they go unnoticed and questioned. We can talk about inclusion and promoting diversity, yet the very language we use is itself part of the problem.
Gender inclusive language is incredibly important because it is a way to address unconscious bias. That’s a form of bias so insidious that it creeps unnoticed into the workplace, the home, school and universities, undermining and holding 50% of humanity back from achieving their full potential.
Wednesday 8 March is International Women’s Day and to mark the occasion we thought we’d highlight the work of a true Hexagon Hero: Amy Gritzinger, and see how we can address some of these issues. Amy celebrates 10 years with Hexagon this month. She’s dedicated her whole career to metrology, promoting STEM education and diversity. Over that time there has been a marked improvement in diversity in the workplace.
Across our business you’d have a hard job finding any single individual who has done as much to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It’s a challenge that she’s taken on in life as well as work. Amy is a member of the Executive Committee at the Coordinate Metrology Society, and she’s on a sub-committee for women in metrology where she project manages a mentoring scheme aiming to address the gender gap head on.
An ideal advocate for women in tech
Amy’s passion for manufacturing, technology and metrology is infectious. That makes her an ideal advocate for women in tech. Amy is quick to point out that every industry involves metrology. One thing she says sticks in the mind:
“If you want to be a woman in tech, you’d better get used to being the only woman in the room.”
Being the only person like you in the room is tough, but in being that person you make it so much easier for others to follow in your footsteps. Someone has to be the first and when that person comes along, we need to celebrate them. It takes confidence and strength of character to step forward and be that person. Amy has those qualities in abundance.
The value of mentorship and education can’t be understated. It gives people the confidence they need to go and take their place.
Some of Amy’s greatest achievements, aside from being a proud mother, have been around teaching and workplace training. She was part of a small team that set up a call centre in the US. Employing staff with little or no previous experience, they managed to train the team instilling knowledge of basic metrology principles and Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division in just a few weeks.
That was a training experience that set her on the path to STEM education at home and much further afield.
During lockdown, Amy started her own STEM education project with kids in her local area. The First Lego League teaches children about robotics and coding with the use of educational LEGO kits.
Seeing the opportunities in STEM
Amy’s ambitions go way beyond international boarders, in 2021 she helped organise and teach disadvantaged kids about metrology at a virtual summer school in Mombasa, Kenya. The project aimed to support children in choosing a career, helping them to see the opportunities in the STEM sectors.
Perhaps the most important achievement of the metrology summer school was the exposure to new ideas and experiences that the students received. The head teacher at the school made a fascinating comment. One day he asked a pupil what they want to become when they grew up and the pupil replied he wanted to pull a handcart. That was the total of that child’s knowledge of the world of work. That’s all he knew about, that’s what he saw in his day-to-day life. It’s another form of unconscious bias, because that was the world these kids were born into and they didn’t know any different.
Towards the end of the metrology summer school, the students were asked the same question. This time, the children’s responses were much more ambitious – engineers, scientists, metrologists.
It only takes one person to set the wheels in motion. It only takes one person to stand up and be the first and then others will see and follow the example. One person can inspire many more.
There’s a lesson we can all take away with us. Let’s make International Women’s Day a call to action. Let’s make it a day to identify and challenge the unconscious biases that hold the world back from achieving its full potential.
Let’s celebrate the fantastic achievements of our female friends and colleagues, like Amy Gritzinger, who day in and day out are setting a positive example to us all.