Oral-History:Distinguished Female Leaders: Inspiring the Next Generation in STEM


This project chronicles the oral histories of living female leaders in science, technology, and mathematics in the early part of the 21 st century by female students at the very early stages of their careers. It is important to chronicle the histories of these leaders because they are identified by our students as role models in the careers the students are considering. The value that their perspectives bring to the field of oral history is a unique set of one-on-one conversations with students who have selected them from national databases of STEM leaders. Additionally the leaders provide previously unprecedented mentorship and perspectives into their life stories in science. This research adds to the body of knowledge of oral history by collecting oral histories of women in physics and engineering whose career paths span leadership roles in industry, government, and academia.

The project started at the Air Force Institute of Technology through an NSF ADVANCE grant #0810989 to the LEADER Consortium (Launching Equity Across the Dayton Entrepreneurial Region: Following in the Footsteps of Katharine Wright). The IEEE History Center is a unit of IEEE, the world’s largest professional technical society, and is co-sponsored by and located at Stevens Institute of Technology. Founded in 1980, the mission of the IEEE History Center is to preserve and make known the history of engineering; The collection of oral history interviews to capture the memories and career trajectories of important engineers and scientists dates to the beginning of the Center, whose collection now includes over 800 interviews. The three research questions of the students are: RQ#1 “What are the key factors that led to the success of the distinguished leaders?”; RQ#2 “What are the crucial skills that enabled their success?”; and RQ#3 “What is the impact on my career path?” As part of the research design as autoethnography, this project presents a new contribution focusing on the impact on the student career path.

Oral Histories

Oral Histories conducted by Kelsey Irvin:

Oral Histories conducted by Hannah Bech

Oral Histories conducted by Amanda Kapetanakis