A Strong Network Can Make the Difference Between Staying and Leaving

A Strong Network Can Determine Success

I liked math and science in school. Did I think they'd become my career? No. I was going to be a doctor.

Except experiencing the death of a patient changed my path and direction.

So, what else could I do?

I love solving problems. That led me to study engineering. This was 25 years ago, and at the time, I was one of two women in my major.

Even though I made friends quickly, we were still the ‘odd man' out, so to speak. More often than not, I felt alone.

When I started my career 21 years ago, I was still the only woman on many project teams. I felt like I was proving myself every time I offered input and ideas.

A lot has changed since then. Thankfully, more girls are following a STEM path in middle and high school, so they are less likely to be the only women in college classes.

And once they get to their first jobs – and even expand their careers – they will hopefully feel less like a small voice in the room and more like an equal contributor. I know our employees have worked hard to create that inclusive culture here.

One of the greatest ways our company provides support – in fact, I consider this a competitive differentiator for attracting top talent – is our employee resources groups, or ERGs. Specifically, I have been heavily involved in Rockwell Automation Supporting Women in Engineering (RASWE). This is our employee resource group supporting the national Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

This group was one of our first ERGs. Women in engineering and technical fields from all over the world belong. As an early member, it was one of the first times that I felt like I was part of a group.

Now that I had a sense of community, I knew I wanted to extend that community beyond our physical boundaries to women all over the world, and to improve conditions for everyone.

I want everyone to feel as comfortable in this environment as I do. Being the president of RASWE gave me the opportunity to increase the organization and extend the opportunity to many more women around the world.

That's important, because to attract and retain talented people – men and women – we must have a work culture that allows everyone to do their best work, every day.

I joined a STEM field, and have stayed in that field, because every day I am presented with challenges that stretch my knowledge and skills. I am always learning. I am always trying to make things better.

This natural network is a differentiator for me. Like many professionals, I've had opportunities to explore jobs at other companies.

None have measured up for me because of the culture here. As women, we are fully supported by senior leaders and male colleagues to continue to expand and broaden our influence.

To provide what women engineers and technical professionals need to be successful.

Vicki Stokes
Posted October 24, 2016 By Vicki Stokes, Sourcing Project Manager, Rockwell Automation
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