Celebrating Women's History: Pursued STEM Career to address major challenges facing our nation

Inspired by Dr. Mae Carol Jemison to pursued STEM Career to address major challenges facing our nation

Published March 22, 2019
Kathy Meyers, civil engineer with the Transatlantic Middle East District

Kathy Meyers, civil engineer with the Transatlantic Middle East District

Kathy A. Meyers has been a civil engineer with the Transatlantic Middle East District for the last 11 years of her  28-year USACE career. She provides reach back support on pricing and issuing contract modifications, Requests for Equitable Adjustments (REA) and claims on Military Construction (MILCON) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) projects.

Meyers said she was influenced by Dr. Mae Carol Jemison. “She inspired because she was the first African American female astronaut to travel in space,” Meyers said. “She was aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. With a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Stanford University and a doctorate in medicine from Cornell University, her notability at NASA inspired me to continue pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.”

Meyers did just that, earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Southern University Agriculture & Mechanical College and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Webster University.

Jemison has inspired many young women. “Her foundation, ‘The Earth We Share,’ offers inspiring initiatives including an international space camp for youth,” Meyers said. “She definitely inspired me but I pursued a STEM career to address major challenges facing our nation: impaired transportation systems, water resources, aging infrastructural, degraded aquatic ecosystems, declining biodiversity (freshwater species losses) and renewable energy sources.”

According to Meyers, there are challenges to being a women in a predominantly male field. “I think the challenges come from culture biases, lack of mentorship, networking opportunities and parental responsibilities,” she said. “I am a single parent, head of household, responsible for the care and well-being of my son. It has been a challenge to balance work and home life. In the workplace, women often experience gender inequality, disparate treatment, lower wages and inequitable promotional opportunities than male colleagues.

“I experienced many challenges while working overseas in the Middle East,” Meyers said. “I faced language and cultural barriers during my overseas tour. Employees must be educated on the cultural, social, uncertain political climate, geographical barriers, such as Afghanistan’s mountainous topography, and potential causalities during deployment. In the Middle East, the Taliban has utilized Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), homemade road-side bombs, to kill many innocent local civilians, U.S. soldiers and humanitarian entities.

Meyers is inspired today by what she calls “brilliant young women and their STEM achievements.”

“I recently came across a Facebook post about a young physicist pioneer, Dr. Hadiyah Nicole Green,” Meyers said. “She received $1.1 million grant to advance a technology that utilizes laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer cells. Dr. Green travels to schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and youth events to educate kids on STEM opportunities throughout local communities. She has inspired many people battling cancer by being very candid about her plight with family members who have been impacted by cancer.”

Along with STEM, Meyers also enjoys cooking, reading novels and watching movies, traveling around the world and teaching elementary Sunday school.