Dr. Carlotta Maria Arthur
Program Director for Clare Boothe Luce Program
AWIS Member since 2012
“No one assumes I am a leader, when in fact, I am both a leader and a trailblazer.”
What is your favorite word?
My favorite word is interdisciplinarity.
How do you define your favorite word?
For me, the word means working across fields, tying the disciplinary threads together in a way that reflects reality.
How has this word influenced or inspired your career, or is it a word chosen retrospectively?
“It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done!” Like many women, I struggle with perfectionism, which has resulted from having to “prove it again” or to be accepted in spite of my accomplishments. One of my dissertation committee members told me this, and I have never forgotten it.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned the hard way?
I have to stand up and tell others that I am a leader, not wait for them to endorse me. As an African American woman of short stature, I am constantly pushing against stereotypes. No one assumes I am a leader, when in fact, I am both a leader and a trailblazer.
What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you have to overcome?
I work to encourage women and young people from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue STEM. I will need to overcome the same obstacles I have always faced: other people’s perceptions and expectations.
Carlotta M. Arthur, PhD, was the first African American woman to earn a B.S. in metallurgical engineering from Purdue University. After a decade in the aerospace and automotive industries, she completed an M.A. in psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology, with a specialty in psychophysiology/health psychology, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Arthur was a member of the inaugural cohort of W.K. Kellogg Scholars in Health Disparities at the Harvard School of Public Health. She also served as an assistant professor at Meharry Medical College, an HBCU in Nashville; an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Smith College; and as an adjunct assistant professor at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Luce Foundation, Arthur directed the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, Diversity Initiatives, and HBCU and Appalachian Colleges Programs at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This interview was originally published in AWIS Magazine.