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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 11, 2013 at 6:26 AM

Women engineers seek a sense of belonging

Professional woman can relate

I was heartened to read in Dianne Chong’s opinion piece that she can “appreciate the relevance” of outward appearance for professional women. [“Guest column: The most common question from young women engineers? What to wear,” Opinion, Sept. 8.]

The way “fitting in” and “belonging” are presented by young women can easily be dismissed. However, any question is an entry into a deeper discussion.

We often have the opportunity to “accompany” young people around us. It is up to us to keep the door open when a question such as what to wear is posed.

One of the gifts my father gave me was to ask me consistently, “Do you own the company yet?” By asking this simple question through my 20s, 30s and 40s, he helped me to visualize what I could be.

Now, as a 50-year-old leader, my visibility and outreach to women is taking several forms. I sit on committees in local community colleges; I speak at job fairs with state agencies and community colleges; I sit on my local soroptimist international board, where we support the education of local women and girls.

I am staying open, saying “yes” and “leaning in.” And I am still looking for that accompaniment from those that have gone before me.

Leslie Kohlbry Smith, La Conner, Skagit County

Comments | More in Business | Topics: business, engineers, gender

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