Girls in STEM to Women in Leadership
The theme of the 6th annual Women in Semiconductors (WiS) program, held in conjunction with the Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC 2022), was inclusion, mentorship, and networking. The presentations at this year’s program were authentic and personal, prompting honest dialogue and responses from attendees.
In their welcoming remarks, WiS committee chairs, Sarah El-Helw of Texas Instruments and Dr. Manjusha Mehendale of Onto Innovation, noted that the over 110 audience members represented a diverse range of semiconductor industry stakeholders, from industry veterans and recent hires to students and academia.
“Networking can feel intimidating,” said Dr. Mehendale. “Some of the unease probably comes from the fact that women are a minority in this industry. Since this is not the case at WiS, where women are in the majority in this room, let’s make the most of our time together.”
She and El-Helw encouraged everyone to interact and get to know new people, and to take advantage of the event to make new connections and learn from each other.
In her keynote address Girls in STEM to Women in Leadership, Garima Gautam, Supply Chain R&D Engineer at Intel Corporation and co-chair of the Oregon Women Intel Network, shared how her parents encouraged her at an early age to compete as an equal with boys, a way of thinking that challenged societal norms in India and helped propel her career.
Gautam discussed the McKinsey & Company 2021 Women in the Workplace survey, which reports that women, especially women of color, remain significantly underrepresented at all levels of management across all industries. She also shared how biases can hold back women from succeeding, citing her own experiences. She said everyone can challenge biases in our workplaces by speaking up for others and ourselves, sticking to facts, and advocating for policy and process changes. Gautam encouraged attendees to build each other up and thrive by using one’s privilege for good, paying it forward, being an ally, mentor and/or sponsor.
The panel discussion Why Mentor? Why Be Mentored?, moderated by Dr. Kathleen Dunn, Associate Professor at SUNY Polytechnic Institute – CNSE, highlighted the importance of mentoring to the professional growth and success for both mentors and mentees. The panel included two mentor/mentee pairings: Christine Dunbar, VP of Product Management of the Compute and Wired Infrastructure Business Unit at GlobalFoundries, who mentors Dr. Jean Wynne, Sr. Manager, Unit Process Research at IBM Research; and Pete Biolsi, VP of Etch Development at TEL Technology Center America, who mentors Dr. Mingmei Wang, Group Manager at TEL. All four agreed that mentorships by both women and men are key to women entering and staying in microelectronics careers, providing guidance and growth opportunities that are necessary to succeed.
This year’s program also included guest speaker Alicia Scott, Senior Director of People, Culture and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at onsemi. Like the keynote, Scott’s presentation was very personal, as she shared her journey as a STEM unicorn from high school, often as an only – the only woman and/or the only woman of color. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Scott began her career as a product manager, and eventually moved into business operations, earning an MBA and chairing the DEI Board.org along the way.
Citing the Women in the Workplace survey, she noted that representation by women in the corporate pipeline falls dramatically from entry-level positions to the C suite. The gap is even greater for women of color, such as herself. After more than 20 years of experience as an engineer, she chose to move into human resources so she could support professional mobility for other women, and women of color. Today, she works to create policy and process changes that support a more diverse and inclusive environment for the semiconductor industry to give more women the opportunity to succeed in the industry.
WiS 2022 was an opportunity for women, and men to have conversations around difficult yet important topics impacting women. The program concluded with an interactive session focused on the following:
- Fixing the Workplace: changing the work environment, not the women
- Nurturing the Pipeline: developing soft skills women need to achieve and succeed in positions of leadership
- Building the Network: gaining confidence and addressing conflict; finding and choosing a mentor and/or sponsor
Discussions throughout the program had a profound impact as they were real and relatable to many participants. We look forward to continuing these conversations when WiS returns to Saratoga Springs on May 2023. If you are interested in participating in the committee or have questions about the Women in Semiconductors program or any other SEMI Foundation activities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Kindling is senior program manager of diversity, equity and inclusion at the SEMI Foundation.