When I could not fall asleep one night, I did not scroll through my phone, I did not read a book and I did not draw. I did physics.
I wondered how to calculate the velocity of a rocket after an infinite amount of mass particles were shot out from the engine. Proud of my work, I showed physics teacher Ryan Cardenas. He took my paper, scanned my work and called me weird (I will take that as a compliment). Little did I know that the equation I derived on my own was Tsiolkovsky’s rocket equation.
Indeed, I was glad to derive the equation correctly, but I loved having a deeper understanding of physics even more. My smile could not be tamed, my inner nerd burst at the seams and I proudly called myself weird. However, many girls feel like they cannot do the same.
I can only see myself in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) career. From a young age, my parents have encouraged me to join science camps and to create interesting concoctions in the kitchen. I have received opportunities to explore STEAM fields, but other girls do not get the same. Girls’ young, growing brains learn that being smart is a man’s job and, therefore, cannot do it.
Parents and teachers have a huge influence on how kids think, feel, and grow. To support girls, more STEAM activities and camps should be offered in grade school and teachers should push girls to experiment and to think creatively.
By doing so, girls can become determined individuals. They will take on challenges and learn from their mistakes. They will step outside the box and not be afraid to explore. The innovation they will manifest can benefit many.
Women have different viewpoints, ideas and insights than men, leading to problem-solving. For instance, women in business can make their customer base diverse and increase their revenue.
The confidence girls in STEAM have found for themselves can encourage other girls to delve into STEAM disciplines, allowing more girls can reach their highest potential.
If girls do not decide to go in STEAM, they can still learn how to perform experiments, think analytically, and read data. These skills will help them in school and in the workplace.
I know, for the time being, STEAM fields will be predominantly male. Moving forward, I know I will not be perceived as equally intelligent to my male counterparts. But, I want to use my minority status to erase biases against women in STEAM careers.
I want every woman in STEAM to know that they are role models for generations to come. We are getting our hands dirty for their future. In times of doubt and hardships, know you are doing it for young girls.
Finally, to any girl out there, do not let stereotypes define you. If you want to pursue STEAM, make sure it happens. Do not let anyone’s opinion tell you what you can and cannot do. Believe in change and believe in yourself.