Leaning into STEM
Michelle Beck Tucci ’11 provides inspiration for female scientists
by Patrick Broadwater

Michelle Beck Tucci ’11 had just embarked on a career with Lexmark, a Kentucky-based manufacturer of laser printers and imaging products, when she read Sheryl Sandberg’s landmark book, Lean In.

Tucci immediately recognized in herself what Sandberg called “the imposter syndrome.”

It was a defining moment for Tucci, who recalled struggling to believe she was worthy of her accomplishments, despite excelling academically and co-curricularly. At Bucknell, Tucci majored in mechanical engineering, a field in which women comprise just 7.9 percent of the workforce, according to a 2016 National Science Foundation report.

“I read that and shut the book and thought to myself, ‘This is the feeling I’ve been experiencing — that I’ve been fooling people, and they’re going to figure me out one day,’ ” says Tucci, who recently relayed her experience to female students at a Women in Science luncheon at Kentucky’s Elizabethtown Community & Technical College. Upon asking the students if they had ever experienced that feeling, a majority of the hands went up. Not one student had heard of the syndrome. “Research shows that feeling affects women more than men, but it’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants (or knows) to talk about,” she says. “Once you know that it exists, it has a lot less hold over you.”

Headshot Michelle Beck Tucci
Photo: Klara Cu
Michelle Beck Tucci ’11 says her employer, Lexmark, encouranges community involvement with a focus on STEM outreach.

Tucci now chairs the Central Kentucky Young Women LEAD Conference that annually draws nearly 1,000 student attendees. The conference aims to empower high school girls and encourages them to embrace their strengths, grow their confidence and seek inspiring role models.

“Seeing the power that is unlocked in these young women after a day spent at Young Women LEAD is life-changing. It makes it all worth it,” Tucci says. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to make an impact on the next generation that’s going to stick with them.”