For Valentine’s Day, SWE members are recognizing their husbands and other loved ones for all of the support they give to help women engineers succeed. If you have a supportive significant other, please tell us all about it using the hashtag #VDay2017 and tag us @SWEtalk.
By Bernice Brody
My husband and exemplary SWE-spouse, Jeff Brody, was integral to my successful career, my participation in SWE and my growth as a person. Despite career pressure, he left to pick up the kids, took his turn at stay at home with a sick child or cover a doctor appointment and took over if I had a business trip. He supported my participation in SWE, which started when my children were 5 and 8. He taught me to be confident and supported my opportunities to grow and thrive. We created our success on our terms.
Support Throughout My Career
I joined Jeff at IBM in 1979. In 1982, our first daughter was born. Both Jeff and I experienced pressure throughout our careers to balance work and life in the way others thought we should manage it. Jeff’s experience was more in your face, including open ridicule, especially from younger middle managers. He never let on how he was treated throughout those years. Later he confessed — but just to point out when these same men had children in two career families and they had to leave meetings for family care duties!
As we were colleagues as well as spouses at IBM, we had to contend with concerns of being managers in the same manufacturing area, career challenges, and managing opportunities for each of us. At times, my career was a priority, at others it was Jeff’s. Jeff was not diminished with my success as I was not diminished by his. We celebrated each promotion, raise, or award as if it was our own. I was able to take advantage of the opportunities to succeed in my career because Jeff just dug in and made it work for both of us at a time when many men were ignoring the demands of a dual career family.
As Jeff mentored, supported and advocated for women in technology throughout his career, he was naturally supportive as I got more involved in SWE. However, I can’t imagine how I would have handled it when I said “you have tonight honey (i.e. homework, dinner, dishes, bedtime), I have SWE work to do”. I probably would have said — you are supposed to be a VOLUNTEER! However, throughout section and region leadership positions, eight years on the BOD, numerous conferences and other SWE responsibilities, he smiled, drove me all over the northeast or to the airport, picked me up, made dinner, dealt with my panic spells and celebrated my successes. We’ve had our arguments over the years, but I can truly say we’ve never argued over SWE.
As many know, Jeff became a SWE member, was the first man elected to a society position (he served one term as a Trustee), is serving his second term as SWE Southern New Hampshire treasurer and is a fixture in our international SWE family. He loves attending SWE conferences to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. He especially likes interacting with students and international attendees. We often lose track of each other at conferences as Jeff goes off to events, sessions or to just network. You can catch him in his tux at our annual Awards Night or dancing at the Celebrate SWE afterparty. I am very grateful I have SWE and Jeff to inspire and motivate me.