Plus, a replay from last week's Fearless Friday event
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Good morning and happy May! This month we’re covering the topic of career pathways and advancement. Today we’re telling the stories of two women who work in male-dominated fields.

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s edition:

One last thing: There’s one week left to submit nominations for the Business Record’s 22nd annual Women of Influence awards.

Have a great week!

— Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

Only 6% of orthopedic surgeons are women. Meet one of them.
Dr. Patricia Kallemeier is rarely seen around the DMOS Orthopaedic Center office without her white coat.

Yes, she wears it because it has deep pockets and keeps her warm. But as one of three women out of a team of 30 doctors at DMOS, she mostly wears it because dressing the part helps set her apart. Occasionally patients won’t realize that she’s the surgeon, she said.

“Sometimes I’ll be going through a pre-operation meeting with a patient and when I get to the end, they’ll ask, ‘Wait, are you the one operating on me?’”

Kallemeier is no stranger to casual instances of sexism or unconscious bias. When she first started working at DMOS 14 years ago, she was the first female orthopedic surgeon to join the practice. At that time, her contracts only used “he” pronouns and did not mention maternity leave.

She’ll still get letters that refer to her as “sir,” to which she says, “Come on, really? Women can be doctors too.”

There’s a well-known riddle that goes like this:

A father and a son get in a car crash and are rushed to the hospital. The father dies. The boy is taken to the operating room and the surgeon says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son.” How is this possible?

Answer: The surgeon is the boy’s mother.

The mindset that women can’t be surgeons is falling out of popularity, although the rate of women in surgery remains low.

About 21% of general surgeons are women and of the 29,613 orthopedic surgeons in the most recent American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons survey, 6.5% were women. Kallemeier estimates that 10% of the orthopedic surgeons in the Des Moines area are women.

Kallemeier went to the University of Iowa for both her undergraduate and medical degrees, completed her residency at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and worked a one-year fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis.  

Originally on track to become a general surgeon, she was guided into the field of orthopedic surgery by a mentor.

Kallemeier credits Ann Van Heest, a hand and upper extremity surgeon and director of the residency program in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Minnesota, with fostering an environment that was supportive and welcoming to women. In her class, she was the only woman out of six residents, but by the time she was chief medical resident, 50% of the class members were women.

But even now, that’s rare. In a 2018-2019 GME dataset, of the 179 orthopedic surgery residency programs, 12 programs had no women residents. Additionally, 18% had only one woman.

Kallemeier said her experiences in her residency and fellowship programs were positive. She was fortunate in that she didn’t experience any sort of sexual harassment like many other female surgeons.

The hardest part wasn’t the 60-hour weeks, helping residents with dissections, reading articles and taking calls in the emergency room to help reattach fingers, she said.

It was having a child.

Connected to community, through mechanical engineering
If you would have told my 16-year-old self I would be living in Ames and working in Des Moines at 42 years of age, I would have said, “No way!”

Growing up in Des Moines, I was convinced I was destined for something outside of Iowa. Though I had a wonderful upbringing, it seemed like getting out of your hometown was what you were supposed to do.

Graduating from high school almost 25 years ago I dreamed of going to a private college on the coast. Always being fiscally responsible, the high price tags scared me off and I chose Iowa State.

I chose mechanical engineering as my major almost immediately. A strong math and science background, thanks to Roosevelt and Central Academy, and being mechanically inclined made it clear what my path should be. Although I don’t think a state school gave me the same diverse experience that a private school would have, it did give me a world-class engineering education.

There are many career paths for mechanical engineers, but through a couple of internships and maybe just luck I landed on using my degree to design the mechanical systems for commercial buildings, commonly referred to as consulting engineering. A mechanical consulting engineer designs the heating, cooling, ventilation, plumbing and fire protection systems for buildings, and works with a team of architects, electrical and structural engineers, and many others to complete a whole building design.

During college I did an internship at an architecture engineering firm in Seattle. Though I was offered a job there upon graduation, for a multitude of reasons I did not take it. Instead, I chose to start my career back in my hometown. I accepted a job at Pulley and Associates, a long-standing, well-respected firm in the Des Moines area. My first office was in a building that used to be the West Des Moines Public Library, with my desk literally in the former children’s section, where my brother and I used to go during the summer months with our grandparents.

During my first year at Pulley and Associates, I worked on the remodel of Hanawalt Elementary School, which still remains one of my favorite projects. I loved working on something local, a project I could show my friends and family and that benefited Des Moines.

Shortly after I joined Pulley and Associates, it was bought by a national firm that focused on projects in the market sectors of correctional facilities and international retail. Though the international projects were intriguing at first, they did not hold their appeal for long. Even though I was just designing the mechanical system of the building, I wanted to understand the context of where this building was, who used it, how it would affect the community. Because we were in the early stages of design, we couldn’t visit the site of our project and I was never able to gather the context. And the correctional projects were a real bummer. Local projects still occasionally came across my desk, including another favorite, the snow monkey facility at Blank Park Zoo.

After working on the new Polk County Jail and seeing it partway through construction, I decided to leave that firm and accepted a position with BBS Architects | Engineers.

If you want projects with a local flavor, and a deep history in the state of Iowa, this is the place to be. BBS Architects | Engineers just celebrated its 125th anniversary. BBS and our predecessor firm, Proudfoot and Bird, lay claim to the design of several Des Moines landmarks and buildings on the university campuses of Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

Left: Movie director Chloe Zhao. Center: Iowa state Medicaid director Elizabeth Matney. Right: Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
In the headlines
  • Chloé Zhao took home the best director award for her best picture-winning film "Nomadland," making her the first woman of color and just the second woman ever to win the directing award in 93 years of Oscar history. She competed against "Promising Young Woman" director Emerald Fennell in the category, marking the first time two women have been nominated for best director in the same year.
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds has named Elizabeth Matney as the state’s new Medicaid director. Matney, who is currently a health policy adviser to Reynolds, was selected after a nationwide search and extensive interview process for the position, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Human Services.
  • Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike for a new partnership with Athleta, a company that more closely reflects her values, she said. The move comes after Athleta signed a partnership in 2019 with sprinting champion Allyson Felix, a former Nike athlete who had criticized the company for failing to support pregnant athletes.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst has joined forces with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in supporting legislation that would remove military commanders from a role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault. Gillibrand and others have argued that having commanders in control has prevented service members from coming forward out of fear of retaliation, which has led to the softening of punishments for those who had otherwise good performance records.
  • For the first time in history, two women sat behind a president during an address to a joint session of Congress. President Joe Biden was flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during his prime-time speech last week. "Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President," Biden said as he took the podium. "No president has ever said those words from this podium and it's about time."
  • A quarter of women say their family’s financial situation is worse today than before the coronavirus-related shutdowns began in March 2020, compared with 18% of men, a Washington Post-ABC poll found. Twenty-seven percent of non-whites say they are worse off now vs. 18% of whites.
  • The Iowa House unanimously passed a bill that makes it a crime to provide false reproductive material during fertility treatments. It stems from cases of people discovering through ancestry websites that they’re not the biological children of their parents. Republicans amended the bill to make that an aggravated misdemeanor, bringing it down from the initial proposal of a Class C felony.
Leading by Example: Andilla Arantika
“My story is less about me being fearless and more about my mother and sister. I’m always looking up to them.”
-Adilla Arantika, business innovation manager, Asia, at Principal®

Adilla Arantika’s family has been her rock throughout her life. They’ve taught her life lessons, like doing the right thing, particularly when nobody is watching. They’ve given her inspiration, like when Adilla’s mother carried the family after Adilla’s father’s untimely death. Now as a leader at Principal, Adilla embodies these values on a daily basis, finding success at work and giving back to others from a similar background. READ THE FULL STORY>
Worth checking out
They believe in ambitious women. But they also see the costs (New York Times). How women’s peak earning years could be affected by the pandemic (CNBC). They call it a women’s disease. She wants to redefine it (New York Times). Kristen Welker’s letter to her daughter about surrogacy, infertility (Today). What I learned about the cost of giving birth (The Cut). Five ways to make sure the post-pandemic recovery focuses on women (Fortune). The coming conflict between introverts and extroverts (The Atlantic). How Houston’s first pregnant city council member is using her power to enact change (The 19th). Why women do the household worrying (New York Times). My pandemic baby is pulling us out of our cozy cave. But how will the world see a disabled mother like me? (Time). After 100 days, how have Biden’s policies helped American women? (The Lily).
Did you miss last week’s Fearless Friday event? Watch a replay.
A story you may have missed
Caring for the crown: Iowa stylists join national wave developing standards of care for natural textured hair
Cosmetologist Shanelle Harris loves color. Scrolling through the Facebook page of her Urbandale salon, the Color Bawse, viewers see short videos of deep brown hair blending into caramel highlights, magenta transitioning into bright red, or even a playful combination of bubble gum pink and peach on her client’s curls.

Harris is not just an expert colorist -- as a hairstylist, she is specifically trained to cut, style and care for natural textured hair, an umbrella term to describe coily, curly and wavy hair textures.

Read more.

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