Why aren’t there more female golf-club engineers?
Fielder landed two internships at Ping during her college years at the University of Michigan thanks to a connection from a professor, who was collaborating on a research project with the Phoenix, Ariz.-based club manufacturer. After graduating from Michigan, where she played on the women’s golf team, Ping hired Fielder as a project engineer. She’s never worked anywhere else and now manages more than two dozen people in product development and testing. Fielder also oversees Ping’s internship program and is involved in full-time hiring.
“Just being a woman on our engineering team here, I’m one of very few,” Fielder said the other day by phone. “And trying to get a little bit more diversity within our team is something that I’m pretty passionate about.
“You don’t have to be a golfer to work [at Ping], but there’s definitely a benefit with a lot of our roles to having an understanding of the game. It definitely gets you off on the right foot here, with having the respect of your coworkers, trusting your opinion on the look of a club or the testing that you do out on the range of our new products.”
As a former collegiate player with no plans to go pro, Fielder was intrigued by the opportunity to work in golf without playing professionally, and she thought that others might feel the same way.
“That was really impactful for me, being able to have a job in golf but not be playing it,” she said. “I think that is probably similar for a lot of collegiate women golfers.”
That was really impactful for me, being able to have a job in golf but not be playing it.
Fielder started thinking of ways to get more more female golfers into full-time roles at Ping, and that’s when she decided to tap into the women’s college golf network. She started with her alma mater, and reached out to University of Michigan head coach Jan Dowling. Dowling connected Fielder with the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) and Fore Hire founder Courtney Trimble, who aims to connect golfers to companies that want to hire them, which further increased the reach of Fielder’s internship and job postings.
It didn’t take long for Fielder’s efforts to pay off. This past summer, two of Ping’s seven interns were female; Fielder said in past years it was sometimes rare to have even one female intern. One of those two women from this past summer, Brooke Tyree, was a direct result of Fielder’s idea to reach out to college golf coaches to help juice interest in her job postings.
Tyree, a mechanical engineering major at Texas A&M, received a heads-up about Ping’s internship application period from her golf coach. Tyree is graduating next spring, and enjoyed the internship experience at Ping so much that she’s already been in touch with Fielder about potential full-time opportunities.
“I would love to come back [to Ping],” Tyree said. “It was a really fun culture, and everyone was friendly with everyone. It wasn’t like you were just a number.”
Kirsty Hodgkins is another Fielder success story.
Hodgkins studied mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, where she also played on the women’s golf team. Her former coach alerted her to a virtual career fair, hosted by Fore Hire, that Fielder was attending in February. The two connected, and Hodgkins started her full-time role as a patent engineer at Ping this spring.
“Rose is just amazing,” Hodgkins said. “And everyone at Ping is trying to encourage women, especially women engineers, to come to Ping, so it’s a very good environment to be in.”
So what’s next on Fielder’s agenda? Given her success this past year, she’s happy to stay the course.
“I’m just planning to do a similar thing,” she said. “Try to maybe expand my network a little bit and meet some new people that could help further spread the word about our internships and full-time positions.
“It’s been basically just me taking incremental chunks of time out of my day to focus on, Okay, who could I reach out to? Who could I email? Who could I connect with to try to just get the word out organically? I think it’s been helping quite a bit.”