Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dr. Sanders To Appear On Oprah

I had the opportunity to film a short segment with Oprah last week - - the actual airing date is still undecided. Harpo Productions did provide me an edited transcript of the show.

Oprah - - . . . please welcome the first engineer to our show, Dr. Steve Sanders. (Applause)

Dr. Sanders - - Thank you Ms. Winfrey, it is a real treat to be here.

Oprah - - Call me Oprah.

Dr. Sanders - - Sorry, yes Oprah. (Laughter)

Oprah - - So, Dr. Sanders, you are the first engineer on our show.

Dr. Sanders - - I don't think that is correct Oprah. Jeff Skilling of Enron and Yasser Arafat of the PLO have been on the show. Both are engineers.

Oprah - - And Jimmy Carter? (Moans)

Dr. Sanders - - Yes, President Carter, but we really don't like to count him. (Applause)

Oprah - - And Herbert Hoover?

Dr. Sanders - - We really don't like to think about that one.

Oprah - - My girls at the leadership academy love the engineers with their hats and trains at the zoo.

Dr. Sanders - - Yes, but . . .

Oprah - - You don't look like a zoo train engineer - - more AARP spokesperson or Flomax model, right ladies. (Applause)

Dr. Sanders - - Thanks Oprah, I'll take that as a compliment. (Laughter)

Oprah - - What exactly is engineering?

Dr. Sanders - - Thanks for asking Oprah. Engineering is the application of science, math, technology, and economics to address and solve practical problems. It is a broad profession that includes activities ranging from designing bridges to building your iPod to broadcasting this show to putting a man on the moon.

Oprah - - So nothing to do with the zoo? (Laughter)

Dr. Sanders - - We design and construct zoos and their supporting infrastructure.

Oprah - - What is your message for us today.

Dr. Sanders - - Well Oprah, my primary message today is the engineering gap that exists between the United States and China and India. Our ability to innovate in a global economy depends on our engineering abilities and talents. The conventional wisdom is that the nation needs to graduate more engineers - - and better engineers - - or India and China will eat our lunch. Part of inability to produce more and better engineers is our indisputable gender gap - - fewer that 20% of engineering graduates are women. If you think about it, perhaps a simple solution to maintaining American competitiveness is to encourage more women to enter engineering. Women have succeeded in larger numbers in fields such as physiology, biology, and social sciences, and they are having increasing success in starting small businesses. Increasingly, engineers and technologists have an advantage in reaching the top, yet in these fields women constitute the smallest minority.

Oprah - - Why are the numbers so low in engineering?

Dr. Sanders - - Probably four reasons. The first is a lack of role models. The focus is male with too many male examples. The second reason is a lack of female mentors. Women make up only 5.2% of tenured engineering faculty. Students feel that they have no one to turn to for help and guidance. The third reason is discrimination. Being in a 80/20 or a 90/10 profession has to lead to treatment as inferiors in business and academia. The fourth reason are the problems and issues of balancing work and family. We still have a huge amount of work as a society to get the balances set correctly - - especially in the engineering professions.

Oprah - - This is good stuff ladies. How can I help? (Applause)

Dr. Sanders - - One is to utilize your media platforms as a means to communicate with young female students, especially members of minority communities, the huge opportunities and rewards that the various engineering professions can offer. The second is to utilize some of your money and power to actually set up programs that encourage, mentor, support - - especially financial - - their potential journey into engineering.

Oprah - - Those are tremendous ideas, Dr. Sanders - - right ladies!! We, especially females and minorities need to think about the opportunities that engineering can offer. I want to thank you for being on the show today!! (Applause)

Dr. Sanders - - The pleasure was all mine, Oprah.

Oprah - - Stay tuned as my dear friend, King James, talks house hunting in Miami. (Wild Applause)

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