Linda Hallman - American Association of University Women
Executive Director and CEO
As the executive director and CEO of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Linda D. Hallman, CAE, is a nationally respected leader with more than 20 years of executive-level experience. Now in her fourth year at the helm of the 130-year-old organization, Hallman has championed women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Under her leadership, AAUW has made women in STEM a priority for the organization’s advocacy, programming, and research, awarding millions in fellowships and grants and publishing internationally recognized research on the topic.
Why do you believe STEM education and workforce are important to our nation?
In the next six years, the United States is on track to have more than 1.4 million tech-related jobs. These jobs are critical to our global competitiveness. According to the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, if women and members of traditionally underrepresented groups joined the STEM workforce in proportion to their representation in the overall labor force, the shortage of STEM professionals would disappear.
As an untapped talent pool, women are a key part of the solution. Because women offer different perspectives and approaches to problem solving, recruiting and retaining them in these fields can open the door for new innovation. It’s not a coincidence that tech companies with a high representation of women on their senior management teams have stronger bottom lines than companies with few or no women on those teams. Diversity leads to innovation, and innovation leads to profit.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
AAUW’s research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is full of ideas about how to combat gender bias in education and the workplace. Exposing girls to successful female role models, teaching girls and boys about stereotype threat, and developing a growth mindset are just a few of the recommendations the report lays out. If we dispel the notion that boys are “naturally” better than girls in mathematics, then men and women should experience fewer gender biases in the workplace. From middle schools into labs and board rooms, women face stereotypes that have real and measurable impacts on their performance. Leveling the playing field requires that we put these stereotypes to rest.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
AAUW is proud to have among its members Mae Jemison, a woman I hope girls are learning about in school. Jemison knew from a young age that she wanted to go into space, and she broke color and gender barriers to become the first African American woman to do so. Her career path encompasses everything we as Americans value—hard work, perseverance, and the belief that anything we dream we can do.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
AAUW is expanding two exciting programs that help girls see themselves as the STEM professionals of tomorrow. Tech Trek, a weeklong camp for girls on college campuses, comes from AAUW of California. Now in its 14th year, this program has served more than 8,000 girls, providing them with women STEM role models and a budding interest in STEM.
Our second program, Tech Savvy, was started by the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch. It’s a daylong program that lets girls explore STEM careers and work on important skills such as public speaking and negotiation, while their parents learn about STEM career paths and college financing to help their daughters pursue their dreams.