Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Yourself - A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform!

International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world on March 8th. This year, the official theme is “Inspiring Change”. March is also the National Engineering Month and the theme of National Engineering Month Ontario 2014 is ‘Make a World of Difference’! [I bet you guessed where I’m going with this! And yes, I’m very excited about being a woman AND in engineering!]

I absolutely love that there is a day dedicated to women, and I couldn't help but write a post. As women, we can make a world of difference by inspiring change for more women in science, engineering, and technology. Every time, I hear girls afraid to embrace STEM careers because they might not be good at it [See myths about girls and science], or because it’s a man’s world [but again as the song says “it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”], my heart breaks a little. It’s important to close the STEM gender gap [Check out why here]. Here are few 'natural' reasons that show that women have what it takes:
  • Diane MarieChild once said that “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”. This is not only valid in the “Carrying babies” context. It also applies to a plethora of domains. Engineering is about creating, designing, transforming what was before into greater things for the humanity welfare. So, ladies … Engineering might turn out to be more natural to us than we think.
  • Engineering is about using scientific knowledge to solve problems. I find it fantastic to solve problems on a regular basis in a way that might change people's lives [It’s almost like being a superhero]. Again, women also have problem solving skills and love to help others.
  • Women’s brains do not freeze when they encounter equations or complex mathematical tables and formulas. Here are graphs that refute the idea that women are bad at Math.
  • I could go on and on with arguments but today is about celebrating Women in Science and Engineering! 
Why is it essential to do so? Because as Women in Science and Engineering, we are going against the stereotypes. We are also the ones responsible of changing implicit biases [Read Natalie’s blog post and this chapter]. Recent studies indicate that people don’t think implicitly of females being associated with STEM related careers when compared to other careers such as teacher, secretary, etc. These unconscious beliefs or implicit biases may be more powerful than explicitly held beliefs and values simply because we are not aware of them. We need to remind ourselves [yes, sometimes we hold ourselves back!] and the society that women have a lot to offer and their potential can't be reduced to just sitting and being pretty. As Nancy Rathburn said “A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”

CU-WISE is celebrating you!

Being present, leaning in and talking about our experiences as Women in STEM are ways to change these biases and have more girls embrace STEM! We are creating, nurturing and transforming the image of Women in STEM.
So Celebrate Yourself!!! You are inspiring change and making a world of difference!

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!