Barbara Hulit - Fluke
Barbara Hulit joined Fluke Corporation in 2005 as President, the first woman chief executive in company history. She was appointed a Danaher Group Executive in 2008 and Growth & Innovation leader in 2011. Prior to Fluke, Ms. Hulit was a Partner with The Boston Consulting Group. Other previous roles include sales and marketing with Noxell, PepsiCo and MCA. Ms. Hulit serves on the boards of the Pacific Science Center, Partnership for Learning and Washington STEMCenter. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern and BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas.
Why do you believe STEM is important to the nation?
Our nation is woefully unprepared to sustain the innovation that has made us a world leader. Innovation depends on both our current and future workforce possessing solid fundamentals in science, math and the other skills that support technology and engineering. And yet, we lag far behind other countries in STEM proficiencies and graduation rates. Of the 174,000 science and engineering doctorates awarded worldwide in 2006, only 17% were earned by United States citizens. In Washington State, our strong recovery from the recession was in large part due to our strength in science, new technologies and engineering. Think of all that Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon have accomplished. Right now, these businesses have the ability to create high-quality products and services that drive consumption. But to sustain that growth, by 2018, 67% of all jobs in Washington State will require some postsecondary training beyond high school, and even though student participation in STEM subjects is higher in Washington than the national average, we are still not creating enough graduates to meet demand.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
The single most important thing we can do is make sure that girls know, from an early age, that they can succeed in STEM fields. STEM research conclusively shows that by their graduating year of high school, only 10% of women are interested in STEM fields, compared to 35% of men. If the window of opportunity and interest closes early, then the answer has to be a collaborative mentorship effort between families and educators and between government and employers. It’s so fundamental. Women are just as capable of STEM as men, but we are losing almost half of our potential STEM workforce before we even start. How can we compete if we’re losing half of our talent base? We need a collective effort in early childhood education to help girls understand it’s OK to be good at science and math, it’s OK to assert yourself, it’s OK to be smarter than boys. We have to try harder to stop girls from opting out of STEM fields before they even understand the potential, or the consequences.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
The Washington STEMCenter. Too often in dealing with tough issues like STEM education, constituents spend more energy in blaming others than in trying to drive improvements. The WA STEM Center evolved out of the Washington Roundtable, a consortium of business leaders, and the business community’s desire to have a more active advocacy role in solving education and workforce training issues. The STEMCenter brings together a trifecta of education, community and business leaders to help accelerate STEM education. We’re not just talking about the issues, we’re actually doing something about it. Washington STEM has already seeded millions of dollars into the teaching community to spur innovation and drive results that can ultimately be shared and leveraged into the broader education effort. I’m proud to be a part of an effort that’s having impact in STEM education, an area that’s critically important to all of us, to our kids and to our future.