Our perspectives of the world are affected at a very young age, and I believe as society progresses, we are becoming more liberal in the sense that yes, girls can be scientists and astronauts or anything else they want to be. When I was little, my mom encouraged me to anything that I wanted to be, and I believe that exposure can be credited to where I am now, a senior in mechanical engineering who loves their current, but temporary, job as a manufacturing engineer.
As a young woman in STEM, I strive to serve as a role model for younger generations, both boys and girls. To support any girl who wants to be an engineer and show her that it is quite acceptable to do what you love and to show boys that it is possible for women to be in a position that might be considered less than traditional in some minds. Since high school I have participated in the North Carolina Science Olympiad (NCSO), that challenges all school age children in areas of STEM. Now in college, I volunteer at our state competition held on my college’s campus annually and enjoy seeing the same students, coaches, and people every year, especially as the students grow and learn from year to year. When I volunteer, I always encourage students to pursue what they love and to not be afraid of other’s judgements. My organization also has a young adult program for high school students called SASE Jr. whose mission is to provide STEM outreach for schools whose programs cannot accommodate advanced STEM areas for students. It pairs each high schooler with a college mentor that assists them with fun side projects and even college readiness skills.
At my old elementary school, they now have an after school club called GEMS, Girls Excelling in Math and Sciences, that sadly did not exist when I attended but now I assist with as my alma mater and the school that my mother teaches at. I think more schools should encourage young girls to explore the STEM areas in a judgement-free environment.
I believe that women will continue to grow in STEM, with science toys becoming more accessible and gender-neutral with each passing year. Although my major is only 9% women, it is leaps and bounds from only a few decades ago when there were none. I look forward to seeing more women participate in STEM in the years to come and learning of innovations and triumphs.