March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). “IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity” (IWD). It’s been celebrated since 1911, and we’re excited to share a special take on IWD here on the blog. We’re shining the spotlight on the women working at Pitsco who help make #handsonmindson happen.
Pitsco Education employs 45 women, with many in key roles. Duwana, Denise, and Carla lead some of the logistics in our warehouse and manufacturing facility respectively. Our controller, Tonya, and assistant controller, Tari, keep our accounts straight, including payables, receivables, and more. Nancy oversees business intelligence, helping us stay abreast of trends and linked to educator needs. And this is just to name a few . . .
If you’re familiar with Pitsco, you know hands-on STEM education that prepares students for success in school, career, and life is our chief priority. As a company, we provide products, activities, curriculum, and full-scale solutions for K-12 classrooms and programs. In order to best manage that work, we internally divide our offerings into four overarching categories: Coding, Robotics, Full-scale Programs, and STEM/STEAM/STREAM Products.
Pamela oversees Coding, our newest addition to our company, and she was instrumental in shaping the assortment of products we now offer to enable educators to teach coding and students to develop the many future-proof skills that coding imparts. Pamela helped lead ideation, design, development, and testing of Code Cube™, our first proprietary codeable wearable for elementary students. Pamela works closely with our partners – Smart Buddies, Arduino Education, KUBO Robotics, Microduino, and Shape Robotics – to help them deliver value-added components, solutions, lessons, and activities to classrooms. She is also involved in helping forecast trends that support coding education as well as executing print and digital resources to help staff, schools, and students.
In addition to directing our Coding category, Pamela serves on Pitsco’s leadership team and directs our inbound marketing strategies. She manages our website design, content, and functionality. She led the Pitsco.com overhaul in 2017, continues to work side by side with Pitsco’s developers to deliver the best experience for educators, and plays a critical role in our robust digital marketing campaigns.
Lacey directs our Robotics offerings, including TETRIX® robotics. She works with Paul and the R&D team in the development of new products and the enhancement of our existing TETRIX MAX and TETRIX PRIME systems. Lacey works with our specialists who create curriculum, programs, and activities that correspond with our building systems. She champions resources such as videos, email content, and spare parts for robotics competitions teams and oversees the availability of options such as the UKITs from UBTECH Education.
During the pandemic, Lacey helped lead the ideation and creation of our recent TETRIX Prime Echo Robot and Reverb. Echo and Reverb were designed to help meet the needs of students and educators learning in a variety of environments.
In addition to guiding Pitsco robotics, Lacey oversees our development team and processes as our project manager. She keeps tabs on deliverables, deadlines, statuses, ideas, and more.
Ruthie manages our full-scale programs offerings, including STREAM Missions, STEM and Career Expeditions, and STEM Units curricula and the learning environments that make them successful. Recently, she has helped lead the creation of our new STEM PBL Units. She works with our development team to create and promote lessons and activities that help students make tangible connections with concepts and subjects. Ruthie supports the alignment of our programs to state and national standards. She also provides thought leadership information as well as print and digital resources to help showcase the 21st-century skills students foster through immersive and integrated continuums like ours. She is also a former fourth-grade teacher, so she knows the importance of engaging minds and getting hands on firsthand.
Beyond facilitating the Systems portfolio, Ruthie serves on Pitsco’s leadership team and directs our outbound marketing strategies. She leads the creation and distribution of all our print marketing and plays a critical role in multifaceted print and digital marketing campaigns.
Anna and Katlie share responsibility for the development and management of our STEM porfolio. Anna directs the products you’ll find in our catalogs. She tests products, sources new items, and works with our development team to reimagine or create new proprietary products, including our fan-favorite Straw Rocket Launcher. Anna actively works with partner vendors and manages activity and resource creation with our curriculum specialists. She also keeps our staff up to date on our product mixes and assists with providing hands-on opportunities to students who visit our campus.
Outside of her category management duties, Anna also leads the catalog creation process, including content, design, deadlines, and distribution in addition to helping with campus events and local business education activities.
Katlie leads processes that bring about new and updated STEM/STEAM/STREAM products. She helps with ideation, development, and marketing processes for the products you’ll find in the catalog and on the web. When Pitsco looked to create a solution to help educators and students learn in varied environments and at home in 2020, Katlie facilitated the development of our STEM Boxes. Further, she has recently had a primary role in bringing drones and drones curriculum to our STEM portfolio in addition to assisting in the creation of a competition for SkillsUSA®. Plus, she has played a critical part in bringing on early-learning options on by adding TTS to our family of products.
Outside of her category management duties, Katlie also assists with the management of our website including designing and creating pages, updating content, managing assets, on-boarding partners, and keeping our deals section fresh.
We know the statistics – there’s a gap with women in STEM fields and professions, and it needs to be closed. So, how cool is it that, in a male-dominated STEM industry, we have four female-led teams deciding what educators and students use in today’s classrooms across the globe? Cheers for girl power inspiring interest in STEM for female students!
Lisa Paterni, our company president, leads Pitsco’s leadership team. She’s been integral in Pitsco’s growth through her 25-year+ tenure. She sets the vision for our work and manages critical components that enable us to positively affect learners. Lisa is a hands-on leader, active in company management, strategic planning, partnership management, and operational areas such as personnel, accounting/finance, and marketing. She promotes our mission, represents us in industry organizations and our community, and champions the people of Pitsco.
Sharon Dean, wife to our founder and CEO, Dr. Harvey Dean, has been the bedrock of Pitsco since its inception. Sharon was critical in organizing so many aspects of Pitsco including personnel, finances, communications, and more in the early years and for many years after. She has presumably held almost every role in the company at some point or another as Pitsco grew while also taking care of her children. While we now have other staffers assuming many of those daily tasks, she is still active in planning, relationship management, company leadership, and stewardship to our community and causes. She serves as the secretary/treasurer on our board of directors, and if you want to know where the heart-driven, people-first service mentality we work so hard to emulate comes from, look no further than Sharon.
Forty-one percent of the company’s staff is female, with many at all levels of leadership within the company. Talk about some serious girl power. We’re better for it. And we’re grateful. We might not all work directly in traditional STEM professions, but we’re certainly women in STEM.
Want more? We’ve got some of the latest and loved inspiration and news below.
Girls and Women in STEM on the Pitsco Blog
- Seven ways educators can encourage girls in STEM
- It’s a 4-peat! History is made at 2017 TSA’s 2017 Dragster Design competition
- CO2 dragster competition puts employability skills at the finish line
- Ada Lovelace: Celebrating women in STEM
- STEM like a girl: Why all-girl teams stand out at FTC®
- Making a difference through mentoring
Girls and Women in STEM Reads
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
- Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs
- Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
- STEM Stories