Melendy Lovett, President of Education Technologies at Texas Instruments, works in what many would refer to as a man’s world. Because TI’s business focuses on technology, many of its employees are engineers, lending to an unbalanced gender distribution among professionals at TI: 75 percent men and only 25 percent women.
“A few years ago, there was never a line at the ladies’ room,” Lovett told Mays undergraduate students when describing her experiences at leadership conferences for TI. “There’s still no line today, but the ladies’ room is busy.”
Lovett says among engineering professionals at TI the number of women drops even further, to around 15 percent. When her daughter reached middle school and started worrying more about boys than math and science, Lovett saw the same thing happen to her daughter as what had happened to her 30 years ago.
“She wasn’t sure if being smart was a cool thing or not,” says Lovett. “What I saw was social forces that were dampening girls’ potential as early as middle school.”
Lovett says teachers may not know how to keep girls interested in math and science, and the result was girls headed into high school and then college without a solid background in the subjects. “The world has changed so much for young women, and I was sad to see that the education system hadn’t.”
Lovett realized the reasons behind why the numbers of women working as engineers at TI and other companies in the industry were so low, and sought to change it. In 2001 she founded High Tech High Heels, an organization designed to increase the number of girls in advanced science and math classes in high school, and the number of girls headed into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) major in college.
The organization focuses on counselors, teachers, and students. Guidance counselors at the middle and high school levels are prepared to be better equipped to help students understand what a STEM career is and what classes they need to take to prepare for college. A training program for teachers helps them to teach science and math classes in a way that is more inclusive of both genders and more hands-on.
“We’ve actually seen from our results that once teachers implement these teaching methods, both boys and girls do better,” says Lovett.
Lovett’s passion for a well-rounded education was a large part of her discussion with current Mays students. A management major in college, she realized once she got into the workforce how important it was to also understand the numbers side of business, so she got her master’s in accounting while working full-time.
“It’s really important for you to be able to handle the analytical side of the job,” Lovett emphasized.
About Mays Business School
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.