In my lifetime, I have seen my parents come home every day from work completely exhausted. Despite this, rarely do they utter a complaint saying they hate their job and wish they would have done something else in college. Yes, they do say their jobs are stressful and do require extra work at home, but they both love what they get to do every day at work.
I am extremely lucky and thankful that this is the environment I grew up with because it has led me to where I am in college now. I am a computer science major and I recently declared a double major in mathematics. I have not always known what I wanted to do with my life, let alone college. In all honesty, I had wanted to be a teacher for most of my childhood, but then my mind was changed. My family had begun to tell me that I was always building things or drawing as a child and these habits never left me as I grew up- I was always very invested in whatever I had decided to make as my newest project. These habits combined with my ability to excel in my science and math classes would make be a perfect engineer they said.
I had absolutely no idea what an engineer was or how many disciples there are in the field. After years of taking math, science and engineering courses in high school I came to decide on a computer science major and that I wanted my education to be based on the technical programming and mathematical side versus the business approach like my father had chosen to do when he went to college.
I have to admit, being a woman pursuing a STEM degree is pretty bad*** and being the second generation to get a computer science degree in my family is a cool tradition to keep going.
A common thing to expect as a woman in a STEM field is to be questioned as to why you didn’t choose to pursue an “easier degree.” These statements are primarily wrong since there is no degree that is deemed easy, college is hard and everyone that truly wants to be there works their butt off. But looking down on me simply because I am a female choosing to go into field overwhelmingly dominated by men is wrong. Instead, women should be praised for choosing to go out of their comfort zones and outside the social norms to go into a STEM field.
There have been instances where even my engineering technology professors have questioned as to why I am doing what I am doing. I might not be the fastest programmer or best as visualizing 3D drawing plans in engineering software- but I love every second I am doing it.
There are so many opportunities and girls deserve to have a chance to be able to study the “nerdy” subjects they love and make an interesting career out of it. After decades of women being pushed out of STEM fields, the tables have finally started to turn. There has been an increase of women joining these fields which then gives girls role models. If a young girl sees an article or picture of a woman who pursued a STEM career, it will give them hope and the mindset that these “man’s fields” will no longer be the norm.
My hope is that little girls will begin to see the women who run the Fortune 500 companies and the women that get STEM degrees and change the world. If they are exposed to this, the stereotype that “women don’t belong in engineering” or that STEM fields are “a man’s field” will disappear.
Being a woman in a STEM field, especially engineering/computer science is pretty bada***. Instead of competing for the boys, girls are now competing with the boys- are we are doing damn good at keeping up.