Tech Women Overcome Numerous Obstacles on the Corporate Ladder

Kim Mays

Often young women don’t consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math, even if they excel in those fields in school. Jobs in areas such as these are usually male dominated; however, Karen Purcell tackled the obstacles presented to her and created her own path toward success as an engineer.

Her book, “Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” follows the trajectory of her career and gives women tips to strategize their own rise to the top in more male-oriented fields of work.

The book offers chapters such as:

  • Thrive in the Company of Men
  • Find the Right Career Path
  • Move On Up—and Love It
  • Believe in Having It All

In our IT Downloads area, Chapter 4, Do the Work Well and Respect Will Follow, is available for download. This chapter gives an inspiring look at Purcell’s struggle up the corporate ladder as an electrical engineer, and it explains how women shouldn’t expect to settle into their careers and not take on challenges. She explains how she was able to gain respect among her colleagues—all distinguished corporate men. She includes stories of other women in her field who shared their own obstacles and challenges with her to include in her book.


My [female] colleagues shared numerous stories of being mistaken at meetings for secretaries or assistants or as the boss’ wife at a company party. Cindy told me a female secretary at one firm mistook her for a secretary and asked how long she’d been in the position. Cindy politely said she was an engineer, and the secretary’s eyes lit up as she said, ‘You’re an engineer? Imagine that.’

Purcell’s story is an uplifting read for both men and women in technical fields. It provides a personal look at struggles women have faced, and it may be eye opening for some men who otherwise may not consider how things look on the other side of the fence.



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