During Women’s History Month, the University Gazette recognizes just a few of the University’s female faculty and staff who have made a difference on campus and beyond through leadership, research, teaching, public service and mentoring other women. Many are trailblazers in male-dominated fields, some achieving renown for their accomplishments and others getting the job done outside the spotlight. All play vital roles in Carolina’s history, as well as in achieving the University’s mission of teaching, learning and research.
Solid Waste Manager, Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
Since taking the job as the solid waste manager for Facilities Services in 1998, BJ Tipton has, with her team, transformed the University’s recycling process from a program that used salvaged tomato sauce barrels as recycling containers to an efficient, data-driven and award-winning program that recycles and composts 9.5 million pounds of waste a year.
Early on, she listened to workers and contractors who knew how Carolina’s recycling worked. She used that information to build a database that tracked all campus recycling locations, indoor and outdoor, and their pickup schedules. “I’m a systems person, so I like to build systems that can sustain themselves,” Tipton said.
Just as recycling practices have changed with the times, so has the treatment of women in the workplace. At a previous job at another university, she was not taken seriously by campus law enforcement when she reported that a former male employee was stalking her.
“Like many women, I have experienced harassment and sexist language throughout my career,” Tipton said. “While conditions here are still not perfect, I am happy to say that I have seen a mature awareness about harassment at Carolina.”
One of only 10 women among 268 Building Services employees, and the only female shop supervisor of 26, Tipton knows what it’s like to work in a department dominated by men. She and her supervisor, Todd Going, the interim director of Building Services, frequently talk about making the department more welcoming, such as using more inclusive language in meetings.
“It’s great that we’re able to discuss things like what changes in the work environment might bring more women, more people of color and more young people to the building and construction trades,” Tipton said.
Read about other female staff and faculty who have made a difference on campus in the March 27, 2019 issue of the University Gazette.
Produced by University Communications photographer Jon Gardiner and writer Scott Jared.