Stanley Consultant President and CEO Gayle Roberts has taken a leadership role in exciting young women about pursuing engineering as a career. Roberts, who didn’t find engineering herself until later in her studies at Iowa State said, “When I was a girl there were no role models for girls in science and engineering really. I was a home economics major and said to myself, I am smart, I was valedictorian of my class, I like math so I looked into engineering.” Roberts completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from ISU and began working at Stanley Consultants in 1981 in her 34 years with the company Roberts has become the role model that her generation did not have. When Roberts was asked what does she typically say to girls who are considering a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) career she said, “The first thing I say is there is no glass ceiling, they can reach the top.” Roberts lives that example as she leads one of the top engineering firms in the world.
Roberts will be speaking on Thursday in honor of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Robert talks about how engineering is used in so many ways to solve problems around the world. She said, “talking to these girls is so much fun. They ask great questions and we just talk about how to solve problems.” Roberts added, “I don’t talk about math or science or the subjects, I approach it from what problems do we need to solve, whether it be clean water, energy efficiency.” The presentation is about how girls can be creative and pursue this field as a career and that they can start the pursuit in high school.
Roberts has a unique role in that she is the leader of a major company in a field that women make up of 10-15% of the workforce. When Roberts was asked what she enjoys about her job she said, “I love the travel, I get to see a lot of places that I never thought I would see growning up on a farm in northeast Iowa.” Roberts also has worked in environments and cultures where women aren’t yet allowed to work in the role that she has. When asked about how she handles traveling to places where women don’t have the same rights as they have in the United States she said, “I am respectful of their culture, I dress the way the women dress in those nations, and I work with a project manager often times who is male and communicate that way.” She added, “By the end of a project though they usually know that I am still the leadership person involved.” She said, “It is really about respecting their culture.”
Roberts is a leader, and she is proud to be a role model for girls who enjoy STEM and want to pursue it as a career. Stanley Consultants continues to grow on their strength of their roots in Muscatine. Empowering young women and girls in our community is one of the many roots that Robert’s and Stanley Consultants are cultivating.