Martine LaBerge said that when she added the Gender Equity Champion Award to the list of honors she has received in her distinguished, 31-year career at Clemson University, she didn’t consider it her own, but accepted it on behalf of her colleagues and Department of Bioengineering. She repeatedly emphasizes that the department works not as individuals but as a team, an ethos captured in its hashtag, #BIOSTRONG, and its motto, “Exemplifying Collegiality.”
The Clemson University Commission on Women named LaBerge its inaugural Gender Equity Champion during an April 26 ceremony at the Madren Center. LaBerge has served as chair of the Department of Bioengineering for 19 years, making her the longest-serving chair in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
Anand Gramopadhye, the college’s dean, said that LaBerge’s award is a testament to the 31 years that she has put into promoting and advocating for general equity.
“Dr. LaBerge has played a leading role in shaping the department into a diverse and inclusive environment, a powerhouse of research and an incubator for top talent,” he said. “I offer her my wholehearted congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”
When asked about who she took inspiration for her professional life, she replied, “I took inspiration from a lot of men and women. My Ph.D. advisor (Gilbert Drouin) inspired me most. He was the kindest man. There were many women in my research lab, and they all did so well in their careers. We had more women than men in that lab. My professional role model is (former University of Alabama at Birmingham Provost) Linda Lucas. I met her at the Society for Biomaterials. I love her leadership. She took time to talk to me and led me in the administrative path”.
Her advice to young women is, “You have invested so much and now you have to give back to others. These are two essential elements of leadership: perseverance and persistence. Don’t ever believe it if someone tells you cannot do it.”
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