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A Letter

Today I felt like writing…I am so incredibly inspired by the women at the Women of Color in Technology STEM Conference​ 2019

So this is :
A letter to my Soror’s daughterA letter to my younger self
A letter to every minority in STEM

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
Toni Morrison

Though a woman in STEM, I’ve always connected to the beauty in art and creativity. I was (and still am) an avid reader. Somewhere in the middle of high school , I became disenchanted with reading. All of the faces, all of the stories, all of the experiences I encountered in books were so far away from my own. It was in my junior year that I first read Toni Morrison. I discovered that great art could be created by and feature black women. I began reading Ntozake Shange late in my life, but when I discovered her writings, I found myself. I begin celebrating the beauty in my skin, the strength and lessons in my pain- I began connecting to other women around me through shared experiences.

What does this have to do with my professional journey ? Why did I go down this rabbit hole?

Because it’s important to understand that as a woman in STEM, you will feel alone. You will often be one of few women in the classroom. You will stick out in the sea of computer programmers and physicists. You’ll be the only one who wears skirts and high heels. People will mistake your choice in makeup and style as youth, and lack of seriousness. The men in your office will walk faster than you to meetings and you will huff and puff to keep up. They will ask you to take notes and mistake you for the admin. Your tone will be described as whiny, and any emotion you have will be “too much”. You will have trouble finding a mentor that looks like you or connects to your experiences.

“Where there is a woman there is magic.”
~Ntozake Shange

You will feel alone. BUT, you are not! Understand that you are standing on the foundations built by Katherine Johnson, Mae Jemison, Annie Easley and Marie Maynard Daly. The modern contributions of Latanya Sweeney , Angela Benton, Lisa Jackson, and Timnit Gebru continue to revolutionize the world as we see it! You will walk through the hallways of work and smile brightly when you find your own- and that sister will smile back. You will get those promotions at work because you have studied harder and worked longer. You’ve stayed up late reciting lines to your presentation until it was just right. You will not take anything for granted, and will stay prepared to take advantage of any opportunity presented. You will still have rough days and some anxiety, but you will discover you are resilient and full of #blackgirlmagic . You will seek out not just mentors, but advocates who will speak up for you when opportunities present themselves. You will spend each summer dedicated to perfecting and studying your craft, falling deeper in love with your work. You will read every book on all of those powerful women who came before you and channel their strength in every scary presentation. You are never alone because your sisters in STEM will be right beside you. You can find them at conferences, in virtual group chats and in your classrooms.

So don’t be afraid when you walk into the robotics competitions, or AP Calc. Don’t change your classes because it’s hard finding a study partner. You will find your team. And when you walk across that stage, or accept your first award, or break the curve – they will ask you how you did it. They will wonder why your head isn’t bowed in fear or shame, or why your eyes are filled with fire and passion. They will look for your inner mystery and wonder where the secret of your success lies. And you’ll say:

“It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.” ~Maya Angelou

#woc #thisiswhatanengineerlookslike #keeppressingforprogress #stemisagirlthing

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