2018 Women in Engineering Empowerment Essay – Kayla Hoover

The main suggestion I have to help improve representation of women in STEM fields is to help women see how they can have a good balance between being a mother and a professional. I know for me this was a major deciding factor in why I chose Civil Engineering as my path. I found that not only did it have a good balance between some of my interests, but it also had good flexibility options for when I get married and want to have a family. Helping the younger generation to understand this connection could be the key to increasing the number of women in STEM fields. A way to do this is by giving these young women an example to follow, helping them see they can too.

Explaining to the younger generations that not everything will come easily is also an important focus to have. They need to understand that they can do hard things. I think that this understanding comes from giving them opportunities to push themselves beyond what they thought they could do. This brings confidence and reassurance that when they put their mind to do something they can do anything, even if it takes a couple tries to succeed. I have had several conversations with women who pursued a less challenging career, who later looked back and realized they could have done something that pushed them a little more. By building confidence and allowing young women to explore the STEM fields for what they are, I believe their interests will be planted and will develop so when it is time for these women to choose a career they will be more likely to pick a STEM field.

The future is changing everyday, and if steps are not taken to step up to the next level we are all going to fall behind. I think that it is important for women to embrace their brilliance and be apart of the STEM fields, but I also believe that without great mothers there will be less confident and motivated men and women to help drive the world forward. This is why I think it is important for women to realize that they can do both. An obstacle that could arise is how to teach this balance. This can be hard because everyone lives a different life and different things work for different people. But as the women community develops, groups can be formed where people could get together and discuss what works for them and learn how others find balance in their lives.

The other obstacle is the choice factor. No matter how much you push or allow for exposure to STEM fields, it ultimately comes down to what they want. Many young women want to make sure they are making their own choices without any coercion one way or the other. To avoid this, I think that the best thing is to ultimately give them the opportunity for exposure to these careers and let them decide where they want their life to take them.