The half hour I spent talking to Lane Konkel flew by.
It turns out the GE Healthcare industrial engineer and I had a lot in common: We both love hospitals thanks to our surgeon fathers, we both hate inefficiency (in my case, also probably because of my surgeon father), we both considered medicine first before choosing different paths for ourselves.
Konkel and I share something else: a belief that one person really can make a difference. “By choosing your attitude, you can inspire others to do the same, and before you know it, you can all be having a pretty great time,” she told Purdue University, her alma mater.
As Konkel and I spoke on the phone in January, it was perfectly clear which attitude she’s favored over the years. In high school, she played volleyball and, according to her, was often the only girl working out in the gym. That didn’t faze her. Rather than allow herself to feel like the “other,” she befriended the guys, and they became her allies. In college, she says she didn’t think she had a shot at working for GE. She applied for an internship anyway. She got that internship, and then another, and then she went to work for the massive company full time after she graduated. She’s already so good at her job at GE Healthcare that Forbes named her to one of its 30 Under 30 list.
I wrote a story about Konkel for GE Reports that you can read today, which happens to be International Women’s Day. This year, the event is asking supporters to #BeBoldForChange. “Each one of us — with women, men and non-binary people joining forces — can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.”
So what does bold, pragmatic action mean? For some, like Konkel, it means keep kicking butt, showing the world that a woman can be a leader in a male-dominated industry — not through words, but through actions:
There’s probably been certain scenarios where people saw me and said, ‘Oh, that’s a girl. What could she know about manufacturing and engineering’ and things like that,” she says. “I just choose to have my work represent who I am rather than my gender, and that’s something I’d say to any females who are discouraged. There’s probably going to be people who doubt you your entire life, no matter who they are, but you just block those people out … and let your work show who you are.
That’s a Gutsy Broad sentiment if I ever heard one.
Listen to me talk about Lane and more on The Gutsy Broadcast: