Did you know that NFPA has a Women in STEM group? One of our own engineers, Val Ziavras (vboutin ), presented at the NFPA booth on Wednesday about our internal group, our mission, and what kinds of activities we do. One of these activities is the annual Women in STEM (previously Women in Engineering) Reception. Every year this event tries a new format and covers different topics, which seems to gain more interest and set the bar higher for the next one. This year, Val worked with leaders from Jensen Hughes to assemble a panel of women who work in the fire protection field around the world. They called this powerhouse of experience The International View. The panelists were:
- Marisol Arrocha with the Panama Fire Department delegation, located in Panama City, Panama
- Ozlem Emgen with Riskonet Danışmanlık ve Eğitim Ltd. Şti., located in İstanbul Province, Turkey
- Birgitte Messerschmidt formerly with Rockwool International, located in Denmark (currently an Applied Research Director at NFPA in Quincy, MA)
- Shamim Rashid-Sumar with Jensen Hughes, Inc, located in Dubai, UAE
[From left to right: Usha Tyson, Julie Brown, and Moriel Kaplan of Jensen Hughes, Birgitte Messerschmidt, Marisol Arrocha, Val Ziavras of NFPA, Shamim Rashid-Sumar, and Ozlem Emgen]
The International View gave audience members (both male and female) the opportunity to hear about the different experiences of women in male-dominated careers in cultures other than our own. They shed light on work-life balance, what it’s like to collaborate with professionals from other countries, if and how the #metoo movement impacted their societies, what kinds of questions they would ask before relocating abroad, and much more. The ongoing Q&A was peppered with a fun audience poll where we took a guess at some eye-opening international statistics. While it was enlightening to hear about our cultural differences, it was also comforting to learn about our similarities. Some commonalities that emerged were that all women were thankful for the use of technology in their lives (thank you, FaceTime!) and that all put their families first when given the chance to move abroad (i.e. making sure they felt safe and had opportunities). My favorite part of the Q&A was hearing about their challenges with working across cultures. The women shared humorous stories about things getting lost in translation, sarcasm falling flat in another country, and the unique obstacle of not being able to understand someone speaking your own language because of accents and dialects.
[A packed room for The International View]
I was grateful to have the following hour to get to know these women better during the networking reception. They are each inspirational in their own way, and as a whole they are so intelligent, driven, selfless, and strong. Hence why they were all my #WomanCrushWednesday! This reception is just one of the things that makes the NFPA Conference and Expo different from other industry events. I hope to see you there next year!
[Just some of NFPA's Women in Engineering]