Brenda McNellen

IU Alumnus and Lecturer at the Kelley School of Business

Brenda McNellen, an IU alumnus and lecturer at the Kelley School of Business, has just joined CEWiT’s Leadership Team. This group of university professors and lecturers focuses its efforts on learning about and supporting IU’s community of female students and faculty who study tech and other STEM fields.

Although her entrance into CEWiT is recent, McNellen has attended numerous CEWiT events and activities over the last several years.

“I love learning new things in technology,” says McNellen. “Throughout my career I’ve always been looking for new ideas and new ways to do things. CEWiT is a source of great ideas.”

But McNellen hasn’t always been this interested in tech, or even business. As a graduate student at IU she studied English literature. Then, she went on to work in PR for Borders. She became re-affiliated with IU some years later when she worked for the Indiana Department of Education. She’s been teaching business communications at Kelley since 2001 and began attending CEWiT events six years later.

“The first time I went to a CEWiT event, I didn’t think I knew enough about tech so I didn’t think I belonged,” recalled McNellen of her first CEWiT symposium, which she attended with her friend Diane Dallis, a longtime member and former chair of CEWiT’s advisory board. “But then I realized that, when I was in PR, I was creating ads and news releases in Creative Suite. I had to learn HTML to maintain our website. The work CEWiT does is so much more applicable than it first appears.”

So, now that she is an official member of CEWiT’s team, McNellen hopes to pass along all she has learned, both through her own volition and through CEWiT, onto more people.

“I’d like to both foster a place where people feel supported in deepening their knowledge of tech,” says McNellen. “But I also want to give people the opportunity to learn about new fields in the realm of tech for the purpose of both exploring opportunities for their own careers and gaining ideas about patterns that are applicable to their own fields.”

McNellen also wants to use her own all too familiar experiences of being the only woman interested in tech in her other careers as a means of teaching and supporting CEWiT’s community and beyond.

“There is still a gap when we look at how much women are encouraged to work in tech,” explains McNellen. “But there is something happening in groups like CEWiT and I encourage people to get in this field because it is a field that is impacting us all. It’s delightful providing fellow women with avenues in a field that has such a huge impact on our lives.”

Outside of her work in CEWiT, McNellen has been conducting research with her colleague Christina Sheley on how we can take the variety of things available to us via the web and creatively combine that information. Outside of school, McNellen sings in her church choir and plays the piano and has also begun restoring a house here in Bloomington that was built in 1880.

“You’d be amazed at what you can learn from YouTube,” says McNellen.

Ultimately, what McNellen prides herself most on, and what she hopes to pass along to others, is her passion for learning new things remaining curious, no matter how hard the task seems at first.

“One thing I learned as I’ve gotten older is to learn how to learn things,” says McNellen. “Nothing is too crazy for you to do. There are so many avenues of opportunity and tech is a field where, if you want to learn something, you’re going to learn it.”

And her biggest piece of advice for women interested in doing the same?

“Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you can’t,” McNellen says. “And if you don’t know how to do something right away, that’s normal.