Get to Know the Presenter: Dr. Jenna Carpenter

Dr. Jenna Carpenter, a national expert on innovative STEM education, will host a web session on research-based strategies for success for women in STEM.
Get to Know the Presenter: Dr. Jenna Carpenter

Dr. Jenna Carpenter is Founding Dean and Professor of engineering at Campbell University in North Carolina. A national expert on innovative STEM education and success of women in STEM, she regularly speaks around the country. Dr. Carpenter has been featured in multiple magazines, authored 130 publications, and has actively held leadership positions in numerous national STEM programs.

Dr. Carpenter is a true champion for women in STEM and GradSWE is excited to host a web session in which she will present STEM Success for Women: Research-Based Strategies to Guide Your Path next Wednesday, June 20th. During the webinar Dr. Carpenter will discuss how research shows that women in STEM fields face some unique career challenges, but how the same research also identifies strategies that can help women succeed. She will present issues and solutions for managing implicit bias, effective communication and power and influence.

Dr. Carpenter has given a TEDx Talk and will be presenting at the Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering (ALWE) program at WE18 in October, in Minneapolis, MN.

Want to get to know a little more about Dr. Carpenter before the webinar? Read on to find out about Dr. Carpenter’s STEM career path and what inspired her research on women in STEM.

How did you get interested in STEM?

I have liked math as long as I can remember! Blocks were always my favorite toy, even as a toddler. Blocks are “pre-math!” I was fortunate to have good teachers in K12 who nurtured my interest in STEM.

What did you study in undergrad and grad school?

All of my degrees are in mathematics, which is unusual for an engineering dean!  Women (especially folks from my generation) often came to engineering through a more circuitous path, primarily because the doors to engineering had technically been unlocked for women by the time we started college, but they weren’t necessarily open.

Did you always know you were going to study those fields when you entered school?

As a child, I always wanted to do something in STEM - I wanted to be an orthodontist for a long time, then decided that I really wanted to teach math. Once I realized that I could major in math, go to grad school and teach at the college level, that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do!

What motivated you to pursue the research you will be presenting on?

I have had three fairly different research careers. I started learning about issues around diversity in STEM at a workshop I attended about 15 years ago. I could see my own experiences written all over the screen, so to speak. My interest was piqued so I began in earnest to learn more about the field and position myself to be qualified to engage in scholarship in this area.

What has been your favorite thing about the research you have done?

I really enjoy presenting information like this to other women and then seeing them use it to navigate successfully around the barriers. Most women are totally unaware of most of these issues. I always reminded them that you do yourself no favors when you are ignorant of all of this. It is swirling around your head and impacting you daily. It is much better to educate yourself so that you can position yourself for success.

Have you been surprised about any of the findings in your research?

There are always surprising nuggets. One of my favorites is that women leaders who learn to toggle between more traditionally male attributes and yet be communal are more successful than men in the workplace.

Interested in learning more from Dr. Carpenter? Be sure to register now for STEM Success for Women: Research-Based Strategies to Guide Your Path next Wednesday, June 20th 1:00 PM CDT.

STEM women who are interested in academic leadership positions are encouraged to apply for SWE’s ALWE program, where Dr. Carpenter is speaking in October. Be sure to also check out Dr. Carpenter's TEDx Talk Engineering - Where are the girls and why aren't they here?