After two decades as an underrepresented person working in engineering, Anne Trobaugh has established a sisterhood that encourages women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to rise up, shine, and make a difference through mentorship. and friendship.
The former mechanical engineer in 2003 trained My best friend at workan online tool to serve as an advisor, coach, cheerleader and steadfast advocate to help women become more confident, cope with difficult work situations and develop their potential in STEM .
These tips come from situations Trobaugh has done over nearly 20 years in various STEM roles, including test cell engineer, principal engineer, chief of staff to the vice president of quality, and deputy director of global quality. Along the way, she encountered unconscious biases against women in technical fields – what she calls “one death by a thousand cuts”. These seemingly minor incidents or actions contribute to many women leaving STEM career fields.
“The best part of starting My Best Friend At Work was making sure I followed suit and did the things I suggested were necessary for my career to flourish,” Trobaugh said. “I preach to be visible, ensure that your personal brand matches your ambitions and always be confident. When I realized that I wasn’t fully fulfilled in my own work, I looked at things from the perspective of ‘what would I suggest to others if they went through this?’
In January, she and her family moved from the heartland of Texas to the Washington, D.C. area, where Trobaugh accepted the position of vice president of quality and customer experience at American Woodmark, one of the largest cabinet manufacturers in the world. His previous work experiences were in heavy industrial equipment manufacturing.
Trobaugh said: “Everyone has a different appetite for change and taking ‘big steps’ means different things to different people. For me, that means moving across the country for a new job. For others, it may mean speaking at a large meeting. Anyway, I want to help point out that the downside of taking those big leaps is not negative and scary. There are lessons in all things.
This is where my best friend at work comes in. He provides a social media sounding board for women in STEM to exchange conversations like they would with colleagues in the office: what to wear on a trip in several countries to prepare for a presentation to the board of directors of a company. Trobaugh mentored over 50 women, most of them in the technical workforce.
“During the pandemic, I had weekly FaceTime meetings with my best friend at work. It helped me feel connected, forced me to talk about career goals and other topics around navigating a new work-from-home environment,” Trobaugh said. “I realized how useful it was to have this outlet and wanted to offer the same to others. Research has proven that having a best friend at work keeps you more engaged, ultimately pushes you deliver a better work product and therefore be more successful at your job. I tested this model virtually and found that the help of a best friend at work doesn’t have to come from anyone. ‘one within your company. I specifically worked to ensure that the help I offered was like a best friend. I wanted it to be accessible, fun and provided in a peer-to-peer format. .
Many members of Trobaugh’s own support system came from his days at Rose-Hulman (2000-2003), which were in the early years after the college went coeducational. The group of successful alumni often get together for video chats, do virtual workouts together, and celebrate birthdays and other special occasions. Late last year, they were able to continue their annual in-person get-togethers to share stories of life and work challenges, learn family updates, and enjoy a great meal — much like their days on campus.
Trobaugh said: “At Rose-Hulman, I was surrounded by amazing people, including many friends who I lived with, took lessons and did after-school activities. When I took my first job after graduation, I was no longer constantly with my friends, and I missed that dearly…I still miss those days of being surrounded by friends who became family and to have that concentration of female STEM camaraderie.
Trobaugh is a second-generation Rose-Hulman alumnus (daughter of Jim Trueblood, 1977 mechanical engineering alumnus) whose grandfather John R. White (1947 mechanical engineering alumnus; White Chapel major donor ) sent a letter to the Rose-Hulman board. in 1977 to advocate for the admission of women to the college.
“Reading this letter from 45 years ago, I can see that we’ve come a long way in understanding that it’s better to have a more diverse world,” she said. “I think the key for future generations is to make full use of everyone’s differences to create an inclusive world. I hope we move from talking about better representation of women in STEM to raising awareness and a full appreciation of our gender differences.
Five leadership lessons learned from being a woman in STEM
Based on a recent interview with blogger Candice Georgiadis, Trobaugh offers the following leadership lessons she learned as a woman in STEM:
Dig deep on self-reflection – Understand what you do well, what you like and what you want about your job. The more you know about yourself, the better you can position yourself in the right role and love what you do.
Be visible – Becoming more visible at work can help accelerate your professional success. Join a female affinity group, become a member of the corporate campus recruiting team, volunteer for a project outside of your work group, and meet people outside of your direct line of command. Learn more about facilitating meetings, communicating with a large team, and planning events – valuable additions to your toolbox.
Communicate the right way – In the management of projects, everything is a question of communication. Make sure everyone is kept informed. Keep communications simple and direct. Personalize messages and learn the ideal type of communication for specific situations and audiences.
Stop using descending language – Instead of saying “It was nothing”, “Not much” and “No worries”, sYes “You’re welcome”, “Thank you” and “I am proud of the work”. Eliminate the use of “just” as a descriptor (“I just have a few slides; I need a minute”). Instead of “I think”, “I feel” and “I believe”, use “I trust”, “from my experience” and “I am convinced”. People will see you as more confident.
Find a mentor – Make sure you have a good mentor in your workplace. Mentors can help you find new roles, provide insight into projects or initiatives that have the most visibility, and advocate for you when you’re not in the room.