STATEWIDE- Inspiration can come from many places and for women in leadership roles, it’s often from those who pushed them to be their best.
“We talk about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps (but) some of us were born with longer arms,” said Susan Gardner, the Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies at the University of Maine.
Gardner said that’s why it’s so important for women to be supporting other women and serving as mentors.
Jessica Meir, a Caribou native, and NASA astronaut said some of her most important role models were her teachers.
“They were really instrumental in shaping my career and the way I looked at science and having a profession in the real world,” Meir said. “They were not only concerned with me academically and in my success in a professional environment, (but) they also really cared about me as people.”
Elizabeth Sutherland is now a partner at one of Bangor’s top marketing firms, Sutherland Weston.
She says observing strong female leaders early in her career helped shape where she is today.
“I was lucky to work for a number of smart talented women as I was growing in my field,” Sutherland said. “With each woman leader I worked under, I learned new skills and saw opportunities to develop new talents based on what they did in their own careers.”
Not all role models need to be women.
The president of the University of Maine, Dr. Joan Ferinni-Mundy said while working towards her degrees in male-dominated STEM fields, many pushed her to exceed her own expectations.
“I had a couple of really serious meaningful important mentors in my life. One was my graduate student advisor. He was the first person who said maybe you should just stay on and get a Ph.D. It never occurred to me that I would do that.” Ferrini-Mundy said.
Governor Mills said she hopes women continue breaking barriers to help create a better future for young girls.
“I have two little granddaughters, 3 years-old and 4 months-old. I want to see the day they can become plumbers, mechanics electricians lawyers doctors, surgeons and be what they want to be without getting guff from anybody.” Mills said.
All of these women say they hope to continue inspiring others and impacting future generations.
“Stay really open to serendipity and opportunities. You can’t always plan what the next move will be, so be ready the next time an intriguing opportunity comes your way and do something brave with it.” Ferrini-Mundy advises for young women.