Brockport Research Institute

24 Brook Terrace | Brockport, NY 14420

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Engineering a New Way to Work for Parents

Dec 02, 2019 at 08:00 am by Amanda Lai


For many engineers with children, especially mothers, finding flexible work that utilizes their degree while allowing for the necessary time to spend with their children is difficult. In this demanding environment which often demands engineers to "be willing and able to work 50+ hours per week; and often be on call 24/7," finding the time to take time off to attend meetings during school hours or run a child to the doctors can be challenging.1

This work-family conflict and the accompanying "anxiety about how many hours they worked, how the demands of their jobs affected their children, and how having children affected their work" often pushes women out of the engineering field as well.2 In a 2011 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study, Nadya A. Fouad, Ph.D., and Romila Singh, Ph.D. found that one in four engineering graduates interviewed left the engineering field in order to spend more time with family.3

This challenge is echoed by Kathy Haselmaier in a 2013 interview with EngineerJobs Magazine. 

“The company is always willing to take more from you and so is your family,” Haselmaier comments.4

From its inception, Brockport Research Institute (BRI) made it its vision to allow promising, intelligent associates to advance their research, writing, and analytical skills while allowing for associates to work remotely during their hours of availability.

BRI began when President and CEO Dr. Sara Silverstone noticed fellow members of the Brockport MOMS club- a non-profit organization for stay-at-home mothers- facing difficulty finding paid employment despite the high level of professionalism and skill they brought to their volunteer work.

Sara describes these early BRI years in a recent interview with Rochester 55 Plus magazine.

“I realized that in the MOMS Club there are a lot of women that are very capable and had tremendous potential," she says, "I saw things like the newsletter, fundraisers, and the book clubs they did. The amount of organization that goes into that is really impressive.”

Sara's mission of providing opportunities for stay-at-home parents and other displaced workers to utilize their professional skills and earn an income while working remotely became the business model for BRI, and those fellow MOMS members would go on to become the earliest BRI associates.

Roberta Benedict joined BRI in August 2018 and has since worked on a variety of projects including grant writing on National Science Foundation projects, grant coaching, and evaluations on 21st Century Community Learning Center and U.S. Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership grants. She describes the diversity of projects as a positive aspect of her role “as it keeps her engaged having different topics on which to work.”

Speaking on work-life balance, she says “the flexibility of setting my hours (during nap times and after bedtime, with two little ones running around) and working when I could find help with childcare, in addition to choosing how much work to take on is the perfect fit for my family right now. This was especially true when our family went from three to four, I was able to wrap up a few projects and not immediately accept anything new until we settled into a new groove. The best part is I can spend a few hours every week staying professionally active, so that if/when I choose to either take on more work or move to a full-time position, I will have at least stayed connected to the working world while my children are little.

Brockport Research Institute is always looking for new project-based associates in the following fields: grant writing, project evaluation, data entry, statistics, research, project management, and educational administration. If you are interested in working for BRI, visit the application form to apply. 

 

1. Fouad, Nadya A. and Romila Singh, Stemming The Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/NSF_Stemming%20the%20Tide%20Why%20Women%20Leave%20Engineering.pdf

2. Christian-Daniels, Seira, "4 Things I Learned from My Mother Working in STEM." American Association of University Women (blog). October 29, 2015. Accessed May 9, 2019.

3. Fouad, Nadya A. and Romila Singh, Stemming The Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/NSF_Stemming%20the%20Tide%20Why%20Women%20Leave%20Engineering.pdf

4. Engineering Jobs LLC, "Engineering the Work/Life Balance." EngineeringJobs.Com, June 2013.