Dept. of Energy Video on Women in STEM Features Carter Wall ’83

Posted January 28th, 2014 at 10:18 am.

Carter Wall ’83, who was a biology major at Bryn Mawr and who is currently the director of the solar operations division at a Boston-area electrical construction company, is an ambassador for the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Initiative and the first profile in the department’s new #WomeninSTEM video series.

Wall on the important role Bryn Mawr played in her life:

I didn’t realize it at the time, but having women in the front of the classroom and leading our labs was so important when I was a young woman. It was when I got to grad school that it hit me—there was not a single woman in the front of the class. I hadn’t realized what a gift Bryn Mawr had been.

At Bryn Mawr, we got a very strong message that the College was for us–that we were the people being educated. That we were the people who had promise, and were expected to do great things. I tell this to parents all the time—as long as it’s still the case that girls major in science more at women’s colleges, there’s something going on, and you need to be aware of that when you’re helping your daughter make her decision.

On the importance of mentors:

Just taking an interest in a girl and saying “you could do this when you grow up” is all it takes. I had a great sixth-grade science teacher who let me go into the school’s little lab and mess around—she more than made up for my ninth-grade science teacher who said “girls can’t be scientists” to me in front of my whole class.

I don’t mean to suggest that it’s only women who mentor young women in this way—the most wonderful people who have encouraged me in my career have almost all been men. The point is that girls need to get the messages—from the women and the men in their lives—that these STEM courses are something that they are welcome to do. That science is something they are good at. I have so much to thank my Bryn Mawr professors for—they shared their love of science and belief that we could all do great things.

On giving back:

I’ve recently started, with a Latino colleague, a non-profit called “The Future Face of American Energy,” to create internships at energy companies for college-age women and people of color to introduce them to the idea that they can have rewarding careers in the field, and to introduce the companies to the idea that they need to look for the next generation of brains in different places than they’ve been looking.

To learn more about how Bryn Mawr’s biology department is educating the next generation of women in STEM, visit the department homepage.

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