Kim Chaffin, Sr. Distinguished Scientist

On International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge the stereotypes associated with being a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, AND an engineer. I have worked in Corporate Research at Medtronic for 20+ years. As a Senior Distinguished Scientist, I am often the most senior technical expert at the table and sometimes the only female in the room (or these days on a Zoom call). The breadth of my life experience allows me to see issues through a variety of lenses. After all, answering tough kid questions like, “Why can’t you cure Grandma’s Parkinson’s?” or “Why did George Floyd die?” gives me lots of practice explaining the complex.

I choose to challenge the stereotypes of being a woman in STEM by building teams where everyone is expected to have a voice and expected to debate, but not expected to look alike. I do this because diverse perspectives are critical to making scientific progress. I choose to challenge ALL of us to raise our sons to view female STEM leaders as the norm and to encourage our daughters to become the next generation of STEM professionals. Let’s make a career in STEM a little less lonely for my daughter and for your daughters too.