This has been an amazing month full of blog posts for me! I have enjoyed writing every single one of them, and learning more about women whom I look up to in STEM. Now, it’s time to get personal and share some stories from women in my own life about the next generation of female scientists. This month I have shared the lives of women you may have heard of, or you may not have heard of. But all these women had something spectacular to teach the world. That was my purpose this month. Next month, in honor of Black History Month, I will be doing a similar series on African-Americans. For now, let’s wrap up this discussion of #womeninSTEM and pay it forward to new generations!
No matter what you do in your life, no matter what field you choose to follow, ask your questions, and enjoy every second of the journey you take to find the answers.
Being an engineer in PhD school means that I have a lot of male friends, and a lot of friends who have or who are working towards advanced degrees. Among these friends, I sought out some females who are driven to succeed and got their opinions on the gender gap through a series of questions. Before moving on, I have to say that I don’t think any woman who participated in this for me understands how much she has done for her community. It really grounded me to see people- both younger and older- than myself working hard each and every day and not seeing their own broader impacts. So to each and every woman who is reading this (sorry men, but this has a very specific purpose): know that you are loved, appreciated, and I thank you for everything you have done.
Don’t limit yourself. Dream big.
Non-white women had drastically more experiences where they felt like they were the only (fill in the blank) in this room. In fact, white women said they almost never feel it, whereas non-white women had a list of instances. Did this surprise me? A little bit. I was surprised that white women actually didn’t feel alone. However, it didn’t make anybody feel inferior. In fact, it lifted those of us who were “onlies” into a feeling of gratefulness, thankfulness, and dedication to continue to work harder.
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. If somebody doesn’t believe in you, prove them wrong so that they never forget you.
We all agree that women are necessary in science, and despite gender bias, they are equally as capable as men. In fact, many scientific discoveries that we pride were made by women! There is just no way we would be where we are today in science without the help of women. We also all agreed that we need to work hard to continue engaging young women to pursue STEM-related careers, if that is what they are interested in. We need to dispel this idea of “womanly” work and just focus on “work that makes us happy.” This entire paragraph is based on unanimous responses from all my friends and none of them talked to each other, in fact, I am not even sure they know each other.
Whatever you do, do it for yourself. Don’t bend to other people’s expectations or preconceptions.
When it comes to finding a passion in science, every child is molded differently, whether male or female. Some individuals have one parent in STEM, others have both, and still more have neither. Some PhD students were first generation college students, others have two parents with PhDs and never thought of anything different for their own lives. I was pushed by my dad to become an engineer, and despite that I applied only to engineering schools for college, I remained in denial until I found my love for research and innovation.