Sure, I have a knack for writing and and a deep appreciation for the humanities, but it’s never excited me like STEM has. Growing up, I’ve always had a fascination with those groundbreaking pioneering scientists that sent men to the moon, or how computers have changed every aspect of life as we know it, and how innovators can push programming to its limits. It boggled my mind how forensic science and technology can break open cold cases that are decades old, and how Albert Einstein was able to discover the link between mass and energy despite having no one that believed in him as an adolescent.
It’s no myth that careers in STEM are largely occupied by men. In fact, here are some statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project:
- 35.2% of chemists are women;
- 11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women;
- 33.8% of environmental engineers are women;
- 22.7% of chemical engineers are women;
- 17.5% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are women;
- 17.1% of industrial engineers are women;
- 10.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women; and
- 7.9% of mechanical engineers are women.
We live in 2018. I’ve never felt the need to shove feminism down anyone’s throat, simply because I felt like we were living in a progressive era and I had never felt discriminated against because of my gender, until now.
I am currently taking Intro to Programming (CSIT 210) to ascertain whether the world of computers is my calling. I am 1 of 2 women in my class. We are split into small groups to work together on the basics of programming. We send someone from our team to write up our work on the board. As I watch his work and explanation, I become less than thrilled about it. It needed some fixing up. The rest of my team agrees and I walk up to the board. As I make my way up, someone from the corner of the classroom blurts out:
“Hahahaha! She’s going up there to draw hearts on your diagram!”
It was absolutely surreal to me. “Are we in middle school?” I thought to myself, but I stay composed. I fix the work and sit down. I’m not here writing this to tear anyone down, but to point out that this childish mentality is obsolete and that I am a woman of very little tolerance when it comes to sexism, no matter how innocent and minuscule it seems. The team votes for me to go up to the board to provide the verbal explanation. I go up, provide a nice, blunt, and to the point explanation, and receive a small praise from our professor. Now that that’s over, and since I have everyone’s attention, I address this remark in front of the class, and it falls awkwardly silent. Hats off to the professor for speaking on it after, and letting our class know that these comments are absolutely inappropriate.
I will never shy away from speaking out about something I don’t like. My goal is not to bash men, as I want everyone to do their best, and be their best person, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., but I deserve to be treated as an equal too. It’s a shame that these ill-conceived notions about gender still exist. Women deserve equality. Just because there aren’t many women out there doing what I do, doesn’t mean that I am some type of enigma that doesn’t deserve to be treated like the rest of my peers. I am human. I comprehend concepts the same way as you do. In the words of Rosie the Riveter, “We can do it!”