December 1, 2020

Seeking Creativity through Diversity

Cammy Abernathy, UF

UF's engineering dean touts the advantages of a diverse student body

Amy Martinez | 10/28/2020

In the early 1980s, the engineering school at Stanford was fairly inhospitable for women, says Cammy Abernathy, who was then pursuing her engineering Ph.D. Along with a shortage of women’s bathrooms, she had to put up with calendars of nude women in some male colleagues’ offices. She recalls: “Some of us got a little tired of looking at those calendars and said, ‘Why don’t you replace them with something else,’ which didn’t make us very popular.”

She says she might have quit the program if not for an African-American engineering professor, Clayton Bates Jr., who encouraged her to stick with it. In 1985, she got her doctorate from Stanford and began working for Bell Labs in New Jersey, where she met her husband, Stephen Pearton, like her a materials scientist and engineer. In 1993, they joined the engineering faculty at the University of Florida.

 

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