26 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
IISE’s female leaders, honorees represent rising influence in education, industry
Breaking barriers, solving problems
An award-winning student video sums up the role
of women in industrial and systems engineering this
way: “Women are natural problem-solvers, innova-
tive thinkers and dedicated professionals.
The effort from students at the University of Mi-
ami won the top prize in the annual IISE Student
Chapters 2020 Industry Advisory Board (IAB) YouTube Video
Contest sponsored by Tompkins International (see story on
Page 60). Its acknowledgement of women in ISE is timely: In-
ternational Women in Engineering Day is June 23, an annual
celebration to mark the accomplishments and advancement of
women in engineering fields around the world.
The influence of women in ISE fields began with Lillian
Moller Gilbreth, one of the founding pioneers of industrial engi-
neering, who served as a partner to her husband, Frank, in early
efforts to document and improve work processes. As detailed in
a biographical profile by Jill S. Tietjen in Women in Industrial and
Systems Engineering by Alice E. Smith, Lillian Gilbreth applied
social sciences and human factors to her husbands work-study
research and was responsible for such innovations as career in-
terest tests, a refrigerator’s butter dish, egg tray and vegetable
and meat drawers, the pump and return water hose on washing
machines, the foot pedal trash can, the design of the kitchen
triangle and accommodations for those who are disabled.
The oldest of nine children, Gilbreth applied those same ideals
and the “One Best Way” of doing things in her own household
of 12 children, as detailed in the book and movie Cheaper by the
Dozen, while serving as an adviser and editor of her husbands
writings and speeches.
Gilbreths efforts and those who followed have gradually
borne fruit. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 data
ranked industrial engineering third on its list of the top 10 fastest
growing jobs for women, with an 82% increase in the number
of women in IE positions over a five-year span. Of the bureaus
top 25 fastest growing jobs for women, seven fell under the
categories of science, technology, engineering and mathemat-
ics (STEM) fields that were once predominantly male. Each of
these jobs saw more than a 30% increase in women employed
from 2014 to 2018.
That trend is reflected in IISE’s membership and leaders. Sev-
eral women fill key roles on the Board of Trustees and in societ-
ies, divisions and chapters, including Immediate Past President
Jamie Rogers, Senior Vice President-at-Large Academic Janis
Terpenny, Senior Vice President International Operations Gül
Kremer and IAB Representative Renee Thiesing.
Several top honorees at the IISE Annual Conference & Expo
2019 reflected the accomplishments of women in the Institute.
The Fellow awards marked a milestone as three of the recipi-
ents – Harriet Nembhard, Pamela McCauley and Tonya Smith-
Jackson – shared distinction as the first female African-Ameri-
cans to receive the honor in the awards 69-year history
“When Pamela, Harriet, Tonya and I were making photos
during the dessert reception, a few things immediately came to
our minds as the photographer waited patiently: It’s about time!
Attendees take part in a
student panel on diversity
and inclusion at the IISE
Annual Conference &
Expo 2019.
Photos by David Brandt | IISE
A presenter
explains her poster
to attendees at the 2019
IISE Annual Conference in
Orlando, Florida.
Attendees take part in a net-
working reception during the
IISE Healthcare Systems
Process Improvement
From left, Tonya
Smith-Jackson, Harriet
Nembhard and Pamela
McCauley became IISE’s
first female African-American
Fellows in 2019.
Attendees join
the discussion at the
2020 IISE Healthcare
Systems Process Improve-
ment Conference Feb. 26-28.
Celebrating women in engineering
To mark International Women in Engineering Day on June 23,
ISE asked several women in industrial and systems engineering
from different fields and walks of life to share their experiences
and views in this issue. Their career paths tell of their successes,
obstacles they have overcome and that remain and how to help
attract more young women into STEM and ISE educations and
the careers that lie beyond. To learn more about Women in
Engineering Day, visit www.inwed.org.uk.
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 27
Long overdue!” said Rogers, herself an IISE Fellow.
“I would encourage everyone to review the IISE Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion Statement and Core Commitments on
our website and join me in congratulating Dr. Tonya Smith-
Jackson as the Inaugural Chair of the DE&I Committee report-
ing to the Board of Trustees,” Rogers added.
McCauley reflected on the role of women in a “What’s Your
Story?” prole in the December 2019 issue of ISE (link.iise.org/
“More women can be attracted to entering STEM professions
if we will share with them the amazing career opportunities and
signicant impact they can have as technical leaders,” she said.
“It’s equally important to create work environments that are
inclusive and create opportunities that embrace diverse STEM
professionals. These environments will become the ‘calling
card’ for recruiting and retaining more women into STEM ca-
reers. My advice to these women is to strongly consider a STEM
profession, particularly industrial engineering. It is a field that is
growing and there are many opportunities to utilize your love
for science and math by creating prod-
ucts or services or improving existing
systems ultimately to improve and en-
hance the daily lives of people.
The 2019 Captains of Industry Awards
at the IISE Annual Conference went to
two of the events keynote speakers: Syl-
via Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts of
the USA, and Stayce Harris, retired U.S.
Air Force lieutenant general and inspec-
tor general.
“We need the whole of our population to develop and dis-
cover the technological solutions for our future, so we need the
50% of our population that is female to be an integral part of the
solution,” Harris said in a profile in the March ISE (link.iise.org/
Harris, an IISE member, noted in her keynote speech (link.iise.
org/annual2019_harris) that she had to overcome various obsta-
cles in her Air Force career, particularly that female pilots were
not allowed in combat, a restriction since lifted. She instead be-
came a transport pilot carrying cargo and personnel and used
her IE background to improve processes.
Throughout my career, I described myself as an industrial
and systems engineer by degree, a pilot by profession,” she said.
The application of its principles are with me every single day.
Acevedo noted in her speech and in a video interview with
ISE (link.iise.org/Annual2019Acevedo) that the Girl Scouts have
put a fresh emphasis on science, technology, engineering and
math education by offering 100 new merit badges in STEM and
an additional six space studies badges.
Being an IE was the ‘X’ factor in my career,” she said in her
keynote address. “At every pivot point in my career, it allowed
me to overcome cultural biases.
Most agree efforts to steer more women into engineering
fields begins in early education. U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of
Pennsylvania is an industrial engineer by trade and told of efforts
to generate more opportunities for women in STEM fields at
the federal level in an April ISE prole (link.iise.org/april2020_
houlahan; see related story on Page 30).
“I’m very passionate about women and girls in STEM and
STEAM and underserved populations, which I consider wom-
en and girls to be part of, and making them have access to these
really important career fields,” she told ISE.
Smith, in a profile on Page 64 of this issue, echoed the idea of
starting women early in ISE fields.
“Engineering is the last profession to be strongly male-dom-
inated,” she said. “I think we need to encourage all younger
women and girls to consider STEM and not be intimidated.
They do not have to be math wizards or science geeks to excel
at engineering and enjoy it as a career.
Even with the progress that women have made in STEM
fields, most agree it is merely the first step toward greater ad-
vancements in engineering fields.
There are a lot of many strong wom-
en who paved the way for me, and I am
grateful for those women,” said Nata-
lie Scala, an IISE member and Towson
University professor whose research is
featured in a recent episode of Problem
Solved: The IISE Podcast at link.iise.org/
problemsolved_ep20. “I think every grad
student has a certain amount of adver-
sity they have to overcome, and some-
times there are going to be people in your career, whether gen-
der-based or not, who are going to hold you back for whatever
reason. We have to remember as women – and men, too – we
deserve to be here and we deserve to have that equal shot.
As a professional, there are still relatively few women and
particularly women of color in the field of engineering,
McCauley said. “That has meant many times I have to be cre-
ative about how I approach situations and Im often the first
woman of color many people have worked with. As a result, I
feel a responsibility, and this has led me to focus on always doing
excellent work, being extremely prepared and always desiring
to set a good example for other women and people of color who
may come behind me.
Although it is often a challenge to balance all activities, the
investment and personal commitment to service is critical in
today’s world,” Rogers said. “The famous quotation from John
F. Kennedy, ‘one person can make a difference and everyone
should try’ is certainly timeless. The folks featured in this is-
sue have all achieved success through help from others. I am
confident that they will assist the next generation and continue
to work to celebrate the diversity of all participants in the ISE
profession worldwide.
Photos by David Brandt | IISE
Sylvia Acevedo (photo at left) and Stayce
Harris, both keynote speakers at the IISE
Annual Conference & Expo 2019, received the
Captains of Industry awards from then IISE
President-elect David Poirier.
28 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
Increase diversity through collaboration
with womens STEM groups
Professional organizations guide young women toward engineering careers
By Diana Berry
In the 1960s, Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories
for multiple NASA space missions. On Dec. 9, 2019, she
received the Medal of Honor awarded by Congress in
recognition of her significant contributions to the U.S
space program. Johnson, who was portrayed in the 2016
biographical drama film Hidden Figures, died Feb. 24,
2020. She is remembered as a trailblazer whose legacy among
female engineers is unprecedented.
Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth was known as the first lady of
engineering. She is one of the founders of the field of indus-
trial engineering, who together with her husband Frank pio-
neered the field of industrial management. The Institute of
Industrial and Systems Engineers recognized Lillian Gilbreth
for her outstanding contributions, creating an award in the
Gilbreths’ name in 1962. She was the first honorary member
of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a huge sup-
porter of the organization in its early years.
According to statistics by the SWE (see Figure 1), women
have increased their numbers in many professions previously
dominated by men, including law, business, medicine and
other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)
fields in the U.S. However, the number of women in engi-
neering in the U.S. has not increased since the early 2000s.
Statistics also show the number of women who are still
working in engineering after 30 years is low, citing corporate
culture as the main reason women leave engineering.
Thankfully, organizations such as SWE recognized this is-
sue early and took responsibility for increasing the numbers.
SWE continues to empower women to achieve full potential
in careers as engineers as well as leaders while expanding the
image of the engineering and technology professions.
SWE was founded in 1950 and it currently has more than
40,000 members. It offers a wide variety of activities to fulll
its mission, such as local and national conferences, awards,
scholarships, outreach programs for the youth and opportu-
nities to engage and develop leadership at different levels.
I currently serve as SWE president for the Central Savan-
nah River section. During my years of service, I have had
the opportunity to judge and provide scholarships for high
school girls interested in pursuing technical degrees. When
reading these young and accomplished ladies’ applications,
I feel inspired. The girls show strong interest in different
engineering disciplines such as mechanical, industrial and
biomedical engineering, among others. Some of the inspi-
rational stories they present on their scholarships applications
are born out of their personal hardships.
Every March, our local SWE section hosts one of our most
popular events, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Our ex-
ecutive team invites high schoolers in the area and requests
the teacher’s selection of girls interested in math and science
who are currently performing well in math and science. Our
section gathers a group of at least 60 girls to enjoy the day of
STEM-related activities. Middle and high schoolers have the
chance to interact with other female engineers who act as role
models, ask questions and clarify what the different engineer-
ing disciplines are. Part of the day’s agenda includes a panel
with at least five female engineers working in different disci-
plines (industrial, mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical engi-
neering). The girls have a chance to ask questions and gather
information that will help them decide their future careers.
Diana Berry, an IISE vice president for technical operations,
serves as president of the Central Savannah River district of the
Society of Women Engineers and attended the SWE convention
earlier in 2020.
Photos courtesy of Diana Berry
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 29
Some of the comments we have received at the end of the
engineering day is that these young ladies dont realize how
having a degree in engineering is so versatile. The girls enjoy
building things and having the opportunity to make a differ-
ence in other people’s lives. As part of the activities, we show
a movie where the girls watch an example of a civil engineer
helping to build a bridge in a small town in Africa. They get
excited when they realize that this bridge constructed with
the assistance of a civil engineer will solve the
residents’ problem of not having transportation
to take their children to school every day.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is also
practiced by other large organizations such as
NASA. The female engineers who participate
as mentors benefit from it as well. Mentors
share their knowledge, explore their discipline
further and make an impact in a girls future.
Through encouragement, a girl who may have
otherwise decided to pursue a different major
may decide to become an engineer. It is during
these early years of middle and high school that
we can really make an impact and shape bright
and young minds.
At the SWE local conference, I had the op-
portunity to chair the awards committee in
Raleigh, North Carolina. At the awards cer-
emony, we recognized three different winners’
categories: group, professional and collegiate
awards. In the group awards, we recognized
winners of the collegiate competition for un-
dergraduate and graduate students. It is a great
experience for these students to present their
papers and have real engineering practitioners
as judges. The winners were judged by creativ-
ity, clarity and organizational skills.
As I watched the winners come to the stage to receive their
awards, I felt admiration and realized we still have a lot of
work to do to increase our diversity numbers in engineering.
In partnering with organizations such as SWE, Girl Scouts of
the USA and Girls Who Code, we will not only promote our
industrial and systems engineering profession but also pique
these young womens interests and encourage more of them
Women in engineering: By the numbers
Data on women in engineering fields, from the Society of Women Engineers’
research site research.swe.org and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.
Freshmen intending to major in engineering, math, statistics or computer
2007: 18.1% (men); 3.7% (women)
2017: 27.9% (men); 9.5% (women)
Women leaving engineering/STEM
Over 32% of women switch out of STEM degree programs in college.
30% of women who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering are still working in
engineering 20 years later.
30% of women who have left the engineering profession cite organizational climate as the
Degrees awarded
40% increase in bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and computer science from
2012 (146,060) to 2017 (205,181)
58% increase in bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and computer science to
women from 2012 (25,900) to 2017 (40,876)
20% of bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women in engineering and computer science.
6% of bachelor’s degrees in engineering are awarded to women of color.
In the workforce
13% of engineers are women.
26% of computer scientists are women.
Female engineers earn 10% less than male engineers.
17% of tenured/tenured track faculty in engineering are women.
Top 10 engineering degrees for women 2017-18
Computer science
Computer engineering
Metallurgical and materials
What can we do as ISEs to
encourage more young girls to join
the field? Ideas include getting them
exposed at an early age to games and
activities that develop their spatial
skills and lay the foundation for
scientific exploration. We can promote
industrial engineering role models
who reflect diversity. We can use the
power of storytelling to present young
ladies with stories about how ISEs
have changed the world.
30 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
to select engineering as a career of choice.
What can we do as ISEs to encourage more young girls
to join the field? Ideas include getting them exposed at an
early age to games and activities that develop their spatial
skills and lay the foundation for scientic exploration. We
can promote industrial engineering role models who reflect
diversity. We can use the power of storytelling to present
young ladies with stories about how ISEs have changed the
world. Any girl can explain how a doctor can save lives, but
can they explain the same impact of an ISE? In engineering,
every voice is needed at the table and everyone suffers when
disparities exist.
As IISE continues focusing on serving the profession and
promoting diversity through its Strategic Plan for 2020, we
should continue strengthening relationships with female-
oriented STEM organizations. As we get more involved
with these organizations, it is important that we clearly ar-
ticulate the value that industrial and systems engineers bring
to our society, so we have a clear identity in the eyes of these
young generations. This will inspire the younger population
of future women engineers to select ISE as their majors.
Diana Berry is a global supply chain specialist at Harsco Rail. She
was the program chair for the 2018 IISE Annual Conference and a
founding board member of the IISE Sustainable Development and
Logistics and Supply Chain Divisions. Berry currently serves as
IISE vice president of technical operations leading the IE Body of
Knowledge Governance Committee. She has served as president of
Central Savannah River section for the Society of Women Engineers
for two consecutive years and as SWE scholarships judge for several
years. You can contact the author at dianapz@hotmail.com.
House forms Women
in STEM Caucus
Even in a divided political landscape,
congressional leaders can agree on
the need to promote more diversity in
STEM fields. In January 2020, members
of the U.S. House of Representatives
have formed a bipartisan group aimed
at encouraging more young women to
pursue careers in science, technology,
engineering and math.
The Congressional Women in STEM Caucus is a bipartisan
group dedicated to advancing the important role women in
STEM fields have in the nation’s economy and research. Its
members seek to promote partnerships between universities
and federal research agencies, programs designed to support
and advance women in STEM and scientific advancements by
female researchers.
One of the caucus’ co-founders, Rep. Chrissie Houlahan
(D-Pa.), has an industrial engineering degree from Stanford
and served in the Air Force and as a business entrepreneur and
high school STEM teacher. She was featured in a “What’s Your
Story?” profile in the April issue of ISE (https://link.iise.org/
“For too long, the STEM community has felt inaccessible to
women and underrepresented minorities,” Houlahan said. “I’m
proud to stand alongside my colleagues from both sides of the
aisle to give STEM a much needed makeover. Our mission is
clear: show women, girls and underrepresented minorities that
STEM is for everyone.”
The other co-founders and caucus chairs are Reps. Haley
Stevens (D-Mich.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) and Jackie Walorski
“By expanding access and encouraging girls of all ages to
explore STEM fields, we can create more jobs and opportunity
in our communities and open doors for them to achieve their
full potential,” Walorski said.
“Women and girls everywhere need to know that they can
succeed in the STEM fields, and that our country and our
economy won’t succeed without them,” Stevens said.
The lawmakers were also behind the push to pass a bill
signed into law in 2019 that is aimed at giving more girls full
access to STEM educational opportunities. The bicameral,
bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act is designed to
introduce more students, specifically females, to scientific
activities at an early age.
Girls take part in activities during Introduce a Girl to Engineering
Day in 2019, conducted by the Society of Women Engineers’
Central Savannah River district. The 2020 event was canceled due
to the coronavirus pandemic.
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 31
Stronger together: Advice on overcoming
obstacles, working for a greater good
Women in positions of influence can shape the future for others
By Casey Spansel
I remember my first day of work like it was yesterday.
This momentous day evoked a spectrum of emotions:
excitement and anticipation coupled with stress and
anxiety cascading down all at once. Getting ready in
the morning was a huge ordeal – I recited greetings and
casual things to say to my co-workers while poring over
what outfit to wear. On the drive to work, all of the advice
I’ve received over the past few weeks flashed in my mind
and provided a welcome distraction from the morning traf-
fic. From commencement speakers to professors, parents and
friends, everyone seemed to have their own nugget of wis-
dom for me.
As I sorted through these thoughts, it occurred to me that
most of the advice was the same: Dont be afraid of failure, be
open to change, never stop learning, be humble, be true to
yourself, etc. These rather conventional, albeit good, insights
are meant to guide you toward success and prosperity in the
early years of your career.
But what about the advice that doesnt fit into nice, neat
packaging? The advice that can be tough to discuss without
possibly jading young, blossoming professionals? Those are
the insights I wish to impart, and at the risk of sounding con-
ventional myself, what I wish I had known as a young female
engineer entering the workforce.
My first piece of advice is to remember that not everyone
shares your same beliefs. This seems an obvious statement but
the particular belief I refer to is that everyone deserves to be
treated equally, even those who dont fit the mold of a stereo-
typical engineer. When you graduate and leave the bubble of
higher education where you befriend and share coursework
with like-minded individuals, there is a culture shock await-
ing you outside those classroom doors.
I was never made to feel “less than” during my time in
college, but I would be lying if I told you that entering the
workforce as a woman in a male-dominated field is a cake-
walk. That said, not everything is doom and gloom, and
there have been many times when I am taken aback by the
support I receive from my co-workers, both male and female.
But there are obstacles women face that people dont want
to believe exist, mostly because it upends the belief stated
above, and it is a tough pill to swallow when you encounter
people who think otherwise. The good news is that these
obstacles can be overcome, but the sooner we acknowledge
they exist, the quicker we can work together to eradicate
toxic behavior that contributes to workplace inequality.
This brings me to the second piece of advice I would give
my younger self: Whether you want the responsibility or not,
you are helping shape the future of work for others. With
this in mind, I cant help but think of the different types of
power people possess. In Brene Browns book Dare to Lead,
she mentions a form of power called “power over,” – a de-
structive form that occurs when the powerless are promoted
Casey Spansel is an IISE professional member who works at
Ruelco Inc. in New Orleans.
I was never made to feel “less than” during
my time in college, but I would be lying if I told
you that entering the workforce as a woman in
a male-dominated field is a cakewalk. That said,
not everything is doom and gloom, and there
have been many times when I am taken aback
by the support I receive from my co-workers,
both male and female.
32 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
into a position of power and
repeat the behaviors that
made them feel powerless in
the first place. An example of
myself exercising power over
is to say, “I had a less than
ideal path to get where I am
because I am a woman, so
why should I work to change
that for someone else?
This form of power is in-
credibly destructive and self-
ish, and wielding it is a dis-
service to not just women
but to everyone who has
ever felt powerless – a feel-
ing most have experienced at
some point throughout their
However, power over is
just one form; power does
not have to be used in a ty-
rannical manner and people can also exercise it for good.
If those in the position to do so work to change this pat-
tern of behavior and dont exercise power over, inequality
and feelings of being powerless will be quelled. In addition,
if everyone in the workforce practiced the ideals of servant
leadership by giving up a small piece of themselves and their
time to act in a truly seless manner, overall happiness and
well-being will increase in the workforce. People who give
their time to mentoring, nurturing and teaching others are
invaluable and ensure the success of future generations. And
by breaking the cycle of exercising power over and genuinely
taking an interest in others’ success, future leaders are more
likely to practice servant leadership instead of using power
for selsh reasons. When you reach the top, reach down and
help others attain their goals.
The advice I’d give my younger self seems very altruistic
and pie-in-the-sky, but the question I ask myself brings ev-
erything back into focus and makes it feel doable. That is:
What are the values that shape who we are and act as the
driving forces in what we do? For me, those values are self-
fulllment and growth. But self-fulllment doesnt have to
be selsh; it can manifest in ways that are the exact opposite.
It can mean being fullled by helping others, choosing not
to exercise “power over,” and striving to be better than you
were yesterday.
Whatever those values may be for you, you would find
that they all lead to the same thing: seeking out a sense of
purpose by working toward something bigger than your-
self, a fundamental component of the human condition.
And looking out for the well-being of others – regardless
of gender, race, religion or social status – is a surere way
of doing that.
Casey R. Spansel is a native of New Orleans and received her
bachelors degree in industrial engineering from Louisiana State
University in 2012 and her masters degree in engineering manage-
ment from University of New Orleans in 2019. She is an IISE
professional member and works full time at Ruelco Inc. Her main
focus is lean manufacturing, quality assurance, QMS implementa-
tion and ISO 9001 compliance. You can contact the author at
“Engineering is an interdisciplinary,
collaborative effort. The ISE profession works
to develop an integrated understanding of the
complex world in order to design processes
and systems that improve quality, productivity,
and the joy of living. Given the recent
COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting
dramatic disruptions, there has never been a
richer opportunity for the solutions that ISE
professionals can help provide.”
– Jamie Rogers, Ph.D., PE
IISE immediate past president
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 33
Improving processes in the Navy and beyond
Veteran’s career path was buoyed by support from a female commander
By Cindy Young
When asked to share my
career path in support of
Women in Engineering
Day, I could not help but
think that they have the
wrong person. I do not
work in the field of engineering. My
undergraduate degree was English lan-
guage and literature and my graduate
degrees, including my doctorate, are all
in business administration.
Then I looked back at my career and
realized that though I do not design
systems or turn wrenches, I have sup-
ported the STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) fields
most of my adult life. It has not been an
easy career, but my professional trajec-
tory has evolved throughout the years
and I hope it can encourage young
women to pursue a career in STEM
Throughout my military career, I
only had one female manager and any
female mentorship was grown from re-
lationships outside of my duty stations.
This mindset has carried on to my de-
fense contracting career. To do this, I
do not actively seek out male or female
mentors but instead have mentors as I
move through life because this works
for me.
I enlisted in the Navy in 1989 and
attended an electronics school in Pen-
sacola, Florida, to become a cryptologic
technician (maintenance). After train-
ing in Pensacola, I was transferred to
Texas for follow-on training and then
to permanent shore duty in Imperial
Beach, California, where I spent three
years in the San Diego area standing
watches and maintaining electronic
After three years in San Diego, I
transferred to Submarine Group 10
in Kings Bay, Georgia, and spent two
years working on equipment support-
ing communications with submarines,
another on-the-job training learning
experience. During this tour, I earned
my associate degree in general studies
and was selected for commissioning as
a naval officer. I left Kings Bay in 1995
to attend school at the University of
Maryland, College Park, to complete
my bachelor’s degree.
After earning my commission, I went
to schools for division ofcer leadership,
the Harpoon missile and the Toma-
hawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM),
all to become a Strike Officer leading
a small division of fire controlmen and
gunner’s mates on a Spruance-class
destroyer, the former USS Arthur W.
Radford. While on board, I earned my
Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) desig-
nation, which meant I was qualified to
operate the ship and performed various
leadership responsibilities. By earning
an Engineering of the Watch letter, I
gained the trust of the chief engineer
and the commanding officer to oversee
the ship’s engineering plant.
Following my first sea duty tour, I
transferred to Commander, 2nd Fleet,
for shore duty and worked with a small
Cindy Young was a presenter at the 2018 IISE Engineering Lean & Six Sigma Conference
in Atlanta.
Photos courtesy of Cindy Young
Cindy Young is seen at her U.S. Navy retirement ceremony with Capt. Matt Bobola.
34 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
team of fire controlmen to support the
ships in the Atlantic Fleet. From there,
I served on the now-decommissioned
USS John F. Kennedy, a conventional
(non-nuclear) aircraft carrier and on
USS James E. Williams, an Arleigh
Burke-class destroyer, where I was re-
sponsible for the ship’s guns and missiles
and for the Aegis Weapon System and
associated equipment. I stood watch as
a tactical action officer accountable for
the defense of the ship using the ships
weapons, sensors and propulsion in the
absence of the commanding ofcer.
Following these sea duty commands,
I served as the Future Operations In-
tegrated Air and Missile Defense Of-
cer at Naval Forces Central Command
in Manama, Bahrain, and as a TLAM
instructor for two courses at Tactical
Training Group, Atlantic in Virginia
Beach, Virginia, before retiring after
23 years in the Navy.
I retired as a lieutenant commander
to begin working at McKean Defense
as a defense contractor in 2012 and as a
consultant, moving up as a knowledge
manager to program manager then as a
division manager of the company’s Sur-
face Ship Enterprise Support division
responsible for providing leadership
and management. I earned my doctor-
ate in business administration in project
management with my study, “Knowl-
edge Management and Innovation on
Firm Performance of United States
Ship Repair.”
Outside of my job, I support the On-
ward-to-Opportunity program, which
helps veterans prepare for the transi-
tion from military service to civilian
positions. I have written chapters for
the “Refractive Thinker” series with
a focus on knowledge management in
womens leadership, global teams and
most recently project management. I
also speak at various conferences for
lean, Six Sigma and operational excel-
lence, that includes IISE, with a knowl-
edge management focus to share my
thoughts on how organizations can im-
prove and develop processes and proce-
dures within their frameworks through
a knowledge management lens.
Throughout my career, I have had
many male supervisors and leaders, but
very few female leaders who were in-
fluential. The woman I remember most
was Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Franchetti, who was
the aide to the vice chief of Naval Op-
erations during my temporary assign-
ment at the Pentagon, though she was
not in my chain of command. In 1998,
I was preparing to transfer to Newport,
Rhode Island, for my division officer
school pipeline when she inspired me
through a note she had written to me
encouraging me to embrace the world
as a surface warfare officer and that I
would love going to sea.
She is now Vice Admiral Franchetti
with numerous responsibilities: Com-
mander, U.S. 6th Fleet and Task Force
6, Naval Striking and Support Forces
NATO; Deputy Commander, U.S.
Naval Forces Europe; Deputy Com-
mander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa;
and Joint Force Maritime Component
Commander. Her words of encourage-
ment have stuck with me throughout
my naval career and are still with me
I hope my story can inspire the wom-
en in the workforce to pursue a career in
the STEM fields or realize they can sup-
port them through their focus. Looking
back at my career, I see how much work
I have accomplished in and around the
STEM field. As I turn 50 this summer,
I will continue to work with a knowl-
edge management focus supporting
lean, Six Sigma project management
and systems engineering. It is up to you
to determine what you want to do in
life, but know that you will find your
way by continuing to push forward
with what interests you.
Cynthia J. Young, Ph.D., resides in Chesa-
peake, Virginia. She holds a bachelors de-
gree in English language and literature from
the University of Maryland, Master of Busi-
ness Administration degrees in e-commerce
and advanced management studies from Tri-
dent University International, and a Doctor
of Business Administration in project man-
agement from Walden University. Young is
a theater mission planning center curriculum
developer and instructor with Leidos, a de-
fense contracting company, after retiring as a
surface warfare ofcer with 23 years in the
U.S. Navy. She is a past chair of American
Society for Quality (ASQ), Section 1128,
and a member of the Project Management
Institute. She holds professional certications
as a project management professional, a lean
Six Sigma master black belt and a certied
manager of quality/organizational excellence
and author. You can contact the author at
A letter from Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Franchetti,
now a vice admiral in the U.S. Navy, to
Cindy Young helped encourage her early in
her naval career.
Cindy Young is pictured while serving in
the U.S. Navy as surface warfare officer at
the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay near
St. Mary’s, Georgia.
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 35
Academic leaders pave way
for next generation of ISEs
Three female leaders in industrial engineering academia in 2019 were elected
to serve as chairs of the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads
(CIEADH). Two share their academy journeys and efforts to promote industrial
and systems engineering to a new generation of female students.
Find a mentor, then be a
role model to others
By Linda Ng Boyle
I got my first job as an industrial en-
gineer at the Boeing Co. in Seattle
right after graduating with a bach-
elors degree in industrial engineer-
ing from SUNY at Buffalo, New
York. I started as a methods analyst
and my primary duties were focused on
enhancing manufacturing operations us-
ing control charts, scheduling tools and
simple statistical analysis. Boeing provid-
ed me the opportunity to get a master’s
degree in industrial engineering at the
University of Washington.
The first lecture I attended in the
master’s program was for a design of
experiments class. The instructor, who
would become my masters thesis ad-
viser, would continually challenge me to
think outside of the box. He helped me
nd passion for human factors, statistical
modeling and conducting high quality
After my masters adviser moved to an-
other university, I continued for a Ph.D.
at the University of Washington in civil
engineering, where I used industrial and
systems engineering tools for applica-
tions in transportation. My Ph.D. men-
tor in civil engineering showed me the
beauty of data-driven approaches. This
has provided the basis for my lifelong
research interest in human factors and
After earning my Ph.D., I worked as a
transportation consultant for a small firm
in Seattle and then became a research sci-
entist at the U.S. Department of Trans-
portation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
At a driver distraction workshop for the
DOT, I was approached about my in-
terest in being a professor. I had always
wanted to teach and was excited about
the opportunity. The school was in a lo-
cation I had never visited, but I was will-
ing to take a chance.
To this day, I feel very fortunate that I
was able to be a faculty member at Uni-
versity of Iowa as I learned a great deal,
met wonderful colleagues and got to do
some exciting research. For family rea-
sons, I actively pursued a faculty position
at the University of Washington, which
led me to where I am today.
I have worked in industry, consulting,
government and academia, and by far
academia suits me best. I thoroughly en-
joy teaching, working with students and
working on research projects that allow
me to continually learn new and inter-
esting things.
I have seen many changes in my pro-
fession since I graduated with my bach-
elors degree in 1986. At that time, the
majority of my ISE peers found jobs in
consulting, finance and manufacturing.
While consulting jobs are still of inter-
est to graduating seniors, there does not
appear to be as strong an interest in the
nancial sector. There are still many
manufacturing jobs, but there is also a
Three women serve as chairs of the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic
Department Heads. From left, CIEADH Past Chair Janis Terpenny of the University of
Tennessee, Chair-elect Eileen Van Aken of Virginia Tech and Chair Linda Ng Boyle of the
University of Washington.
36 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
growing interest in jobs in the health
sector as well as in high tech companies
such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google and
Apple. These organizations have jobs
that ISEs are well suited for, including
data scientist, product design, systems
modeler, risk analysis and usability ana-
Industrial engineering has always been
an attractive engineering field for wom-
en. I have been very fortunate to have
been surrounded by many intelligent
females throughout my engineering and
academic career and it is great to see this
community well represented in admin-
istrative roles.
Here are some words of advice to pass
Transitioning between academia
and industry. My path toward aca-
demia was not straightforward, but I
learned a lot along the way and would
not trade any of the experiences I gained.
I am asked often by graduate students
whether they can get an academic job
after being in an industry or govern-
ment position for some time period. The
answer is “yes,” but you do want to stay
current in research if a tenure track posi-
tion is your goal. This does involve be-
ing involved in your professional society,
publishing and networking. There are
also many ways to be involved in an aca-
demic setting besides the tenure track.
The growing roles of teaching professors
and research tracks have become invalu-
able for many universities.
Finding a mentor. Throughout my
career, mentors have played a huge role
in my life experiences. You can have
more than one mentor and they do not
have to be in the same research area.
They can be anyone you regard highly,
you value their advice and you feel at
ease when talking to them about your
highs and lows.
Job search. When I first started at
Boeing, industrial engineers were not
recognized as “engineers.” There are
now many jobs at Boeing with the title
of industrial engineer. However, for
those entering the job market, there are
actually many job titles that encompass
industrial engineering skills. The UW
ISE Executive Advisory Board came up
with a list of ISE job titles posted on our
website at link.iise.org/isejobtitles.
Being a role model. Anyone has the
ability to be a role model. I have been
most inspired by those who demonstrate
passion, and high integrity and work
ethics. In general, if you follow your pas-
sion, others will see that passion. And if
they are inspired by your passion, they
may even ask you to be a mentor.
Linda Ng Boyle is professor and chair of In-
dustrial & Systems Engineering Department
and a professor of civil & environmental engi-
neering at the University of Washington. She
is chair of the Council of Industrial Engineer-
ing Academic Department Heads at link.iise.
Motivated by a strong desire
to make a difference
By Janis Terpenny
My career journey and
draw to STEM and en-
gineering comes from a
strong desire to under-
stand and solve real prob-
lems and to make a differ-
ence in the world. I enjoy collaborations,
particularly those that bring diverse
perspectives and backgrounds together.
I have always enjoyed the breadth and
focus of industrial engineering, always
seeking to make things better with an
emphasis on people, processes and sys-
tems and the applicability of tools and
methods of industrial engineering to
virtually every application domain.
As a researcher, educator and leader
in the areas of engineering design, de-
sign education and manufacturing, my
approach has often included collabora-
tions around problems of significance
that have brought industry, community
partners, government and/or univer-
sities together. I feel strongly that real
problems and real partners help to solve
the problem at hand, inform and inspire
fundamental research, bridge research
to practice and provide the opportunity
to educate, mentor and inspire students.
K-12 students need to be inspired by the
problems and big impact they can have
as engineers, not simply hear that they
are smart and that engineering is hard,
but they can do it. They want to make
a difference.
To be effective leaders, women can-
not completely emulate their male
counterparts but must recognize and
utilize their unique perspectives, talents
and skills. In particular, female leaders
should give themselves permission to
be creative and try new approaches that
may not have been envisioned or tried
by their male counterparts.
For me, this has included a positive,
enthusiastic and inspiring approach.
I enjoy being creative and trying new
methods to foster engagement and col-
laboration. I am often characterized as
being quite different by those I work
for and with. They often welcome this
change over the top-down authoritar-
ian approach that may have become fa-
miliar to them.
IISE Fellow Janis Terpenny has held sev-
eral leadership positions and often been the
rst woman to serve in her role as dean of
engineering at the University of Tennessee,
department head of Industrial & Manufac-
turing Engineering at Penn State University
and as department chair of Industrial and
Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa
State University. She has served as director
of the Center for e-Design, a multi-univer-
sity and 20-plus member National Science
Foundation (NSF) industry university co-
operative research center for many years. She
also served as the technology lead for the Ad-
vanced Manufacturing Enterprise area for one
of the nation’s first manufacturing institutes,
the Digital Manufacturing and Design In-
novation Institute. She has also served as a
program director at the NSF and has been
a professor at Virginia Tech and at the Uni-
versity of Massachusetts Amherst. She serves
on the IISE Board of Trustees as senior vice
president, academics, and is past chair of
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 37
Industry 4.0 and the call for
inclusive organizations
Everyone has a role in breaking down barriers for underrepresented persons
By Sneha Sinha
We’re in the midst of a signicant transforma-
tion regarding the way we innovate, manufac-
ture and collaborate. Yet we live in a society
that historically excludes talented individuals
with underrepresented identities from taking
a seat at the table. It is time to change the nar-
rative and intentionally approach leadership with an inclusive
and change-driven mindset.
It is every persons responsibility to critically analyze mis-
representations in current diversity initiatives that lead to a
false delusion of progress. We must discuss opportunities for
internal improvement and build inclusive cultures that reflect
the experiences of underrepresented persons. Breaking down
barriers to entry and growth will enable leaders to do the
right thing while unlocking a multitude of benefits for their
While Industry 4.0 is evolving our technical understand-
ing of business and manufacturing, we must simultaneously
realize the critical need to evolve the inclusion of underrep-
resented voices. Companies are grappling with how to pre-
pare their workforce to take on new responsibilities that sur-
face as industry moves toward the next stage of technology
and competition. We must envision a revolution where we
harness the power of technology with the voices and needs of
diverse communities at its heart.
There are a multitude of misconceptions and misunder-
standings about diversity, inclusion and equity. Simply en-
couraging the hiring of underrepresented employees to
increase diversity in our organizations cannot be where it
ends. We have to let down our mental barriers and critically
analyze the history of our economy and society. This will
help us understand why we have an unfair playing field in
leadership, and why we see less diversity as we go higher up
in any organization.
An abundance of research proves that diverse teams in-
crease innovation and profits, signicantly impacting the
bottom line. It is imperative to recognize the value of includ-
ing underrepresented candidates beyond exploiting labor for
the financial benefit of the organization. Women and people
of color have been denied equal opportunities through hun-
dreds of years of legal and social exclusion.
While a diversity focus has come to the forefront of re-
cruitment, an in-depth view of the experiences of under-
represented individuals at organizations shows there are con-
cerningly low retention rates. People of color and women
experience exclusion, lack of a sense of belonging and impos-
ter syndrome at significantly higher rates than others.
A nationwide 2019 survey of nearly 6,000 identities in
More on diversity and inclusion
Sneha Sinha and University of Texas at Arlington student Carlos
Garza were among four student leaders in a panel session on
diversity at the IISE Annual Conference & Expo 2019. A full room
of attendees expressed their passionate views and concerns about
ongoing issues surrounding equity and inclusion. They also
discussed the challenges people of color face in their ISE careers
and what IISE and its members do to push the discussion into
action in an episode of Problem Solved: The IISE Podcast at link.
iise.org/problemsolvedep04_diversity. You can download
IISE’s diversity and inclusion mission statement at: link.iise.org/
Sneha Sinha has an Instagram blog, “Engineer Like a Lady,”
where she discusses issues of diversity and inclusion.
38 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
women of ISE
STEM careers by PDX Women in Tech (pdxwit.org) revealed
that black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) as well
as gender nonconforming (GNC) people were half as likely
than their privileged counterparts to feel like their companys
diversity and inclusion initiatives were representative or ef-
fective. They also reported having their voices ignored and
overlooked about twice as often as their counterparts. Across
the board, it is clear that BIPOC and GNC folks are experi-
encing a completely different workplace culture that affects
their productivity and results at significant levels.
Though the percentage of women in technical STEM
fields has increased over time, there continues to be an ab-
sence of underrepresented identities in top management po-
sitions across the board. Women hold almost half of mana-
gerial and professional positions in the workplace; however,
they only account for 6.6% of the Fortune 500 CEOs. Less
than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women of color. This is
no coincidence – it is the result of the systemic exclusion
of women and people of color from equitable opportunities
for growth. As industrial engineers, we understand the need
to continuously improve systems and intentionally connect
resources to be most effective.
Evaluating the STEM pipeline from childhood into top
management in industry unveils various factors that lead to
the high dropout rate for women and people of color. Using
the lean methodology of the “5 Whys,” we can diagnose the
root cause of the issue throughout the pipeline from child-
hood to corporate participation.
Starting in childhood, there are obvious factors such as re-
peated and highly gendered narratives in media, toys, school
and parenting. In academia, women start feeling isolated at
exponentially higher rates as they look around their class-
room and are unable to find a sense of camaraderie among
peers or representation in advisers and professors. There is an
opportunity to better fund women and students of color to
attend national conferences where they can be exposed to ca-
reer and life-changing opportunities and find a community
of those with similar experiences.
In the corporate world, women struggle to find mentors
who relate to and validate their experiences due to signi-
cantly fewer women serving in top management roles to act
as mentors.
In many modern workplaces, employees are evaluated
based on how they fit the company culture. While it is great
to introduce subjective measures to evaluate and understand
the value of an employee’s contribution, it also introduces a
signicant amount of identity-based bias. Due to these dis-
parities and the struggle to build close relationships and fit in
at work, women and people of color often get passed over for
promotions or considerations for opportunities. These folks
also experience high rates of burnout and exhaustion while
dealing with microaggressions and isolation at work.
This is further influenced by societal phenomena, like im-
poster syndrome, and additional burdens on women, such as
family caregiving. If we linked lean applications to STEM
education-to-workforce pipelines, there is a significant op-
Students lead a panel session on diversity and inclusion May 20, 2019, at the IISE Annual Conference & Expo 2019 in Orlando. Pictured
are, from left, Sabrina Salameh, Sneha Sinha, Carlos Garza and Dustin Diep.
Photo by David Brandt | IISE
June 2020 | ISE Magazine 39
portunity to intervene and reduce inconsistencies in oppor-
tunities for women and people of color. We can eliminate
wasted talent by taking the responsibility to create intersec-
tional support and tangible pathways for underrepresented
students and employees.
To retain underrepresented individuals requires building
safe environments where their experiences and voices are
believed, heard, amplied and supported. It requires provid-
ing an equitable playing field for professional development
and growth up the corporate ladder. Inclusion is not surface
level; we have to dive deep to understand how we interact
with one another and how that influences the environments
where we live and work. It’s not just about blatant racism and
sexism but about microaggressions, identifying biases that
weve been socialized to have and recognizing how we all
uphold intricate systems of ancient injustices that continue to
disparage women and communities of color.
In moving beyond mission statements and stock photos of
people of color on websites, organizations need to create tan-
gible goals and prioritize building inclusive cultures from the
top down. It needs to be more than just a legal checkpoint to
avoid discrimination lawsuits. We need to begin listening to
underrepresented individuals to understand their needs and
areas where we can better support them. We need to create
tangible support and resources that dont just make people
feel seen but provide opportunities for growth and create real
change. We need to encourage inclusive behavior, but more
importantly, reprimand exclusive behavior. It is imperative
to stop tiptoeing around the problem and identify ways to
make long-term positive and impactful change. We have to
shift the mindset, language and understanding around diver-
sity and inclusion and how they combine to create equitable
One of the most significant mental shifts that we need to
claim is that of inclusion ownership.
Many organizations say they want
to be multicultural; however, this
often translates to expecting under-
represented identities to conform to
existing workplace norms. Often
when underrepresented folks raise
an issue that causes discomfort, the
response is to persecute the person
for disturbing the peace rather than
looking at the root cause. For too
long, the burden of advocacy for
inclusion of women and people of
color has fallen on those who bear
those identities. This is due to the
fact that it is hard to prioritize and
be angry enough about an issue that
isnt at the forefront of your experi-
ence. We have created a connotation of who an advocate
is, which gives us an excuse to not achieve true allyship via
influential leadership in our spheres. We need to recognize
there is always something that everyone can do, every day, to
advocate for someone.
While it is important to lead with an equity lens from top
management and C-suite executives to drive goals, it is also
important to realize that culture shifts and change come from
within each team. You dont need a platform or audience to
make a difference. We are all leaders practicing the power of
influence. It is time to change the narrative and start using
our power to create better-informed mentoring programs,
unbiased recruiting methods and more. Intentional advocacy
for organizational change feeds inclusive cultures. This is not
just a gender or race issue – this is an industry issue. It’s not
just about increasing innovation and profits, though that is a
great side effect – it is about doing the right thing and forging
the path to the future.
We must understand that the absence of tension is not the
same thing as the presence of justice. We must tear down the
delusion of progress and take radical steps to set inuential
examples in the industry and build successful, progressive
and inclusive organizations. It is the responsibility of each
one of us, regardless of identity, to use our privilege to speak
up and create safe spaces for women and people of color to
bring their best to the table and be heard. This is how we cre-
ate true transformational progress in our industry.
Sneha Sinha is a fourth-year industrial engineering student at Or-
egon State University who helped launch the university’s Center for
Diversity and Inclusion. She also has a blog on Instagram, “Engi-
neer Like a Lady,” at www.instagram.com/engineerlikealady. She
is an IISE member. You can contact the author at snehapdx@