The Anticipated Celebration of Women In STEM

courtesy: Raelyn Henderson

Why should we celebrate women in STEM? Well, there’s a multitude of reasons. Women in STEM are frequently overlooked when faced with adversity, as we saw in the hit movie,“Hidden Figures” where Taraji P. Henson takes on the role of Ms. Katherine Johnson. Being the only black woman, she has to run all the way to the other side of the building to simply use the bathroom. She always got a few side eyes from the men, but she was a role model that showed women in all STEM majors that succeeding in a male dominated field is possible in all aspects.

Women in STEM are not only overlooked when it comes to adversity but also the workplace, and even in historical events. Women make up less than half of the STEM workforce, and even less in board or managerial positions. As young women are aspiring to take on this task of diving into these male dominated fields, what advice do we give to encourage them?

How do we install in them the strength required to deal with difficulties, biases, and disadvantages in the workplace? We need more positive role models for young girls to look like Ms. Katherine Johnson.

Southern University student Raelyn Henderson is a senior Mechanical Engineering major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is president of the Society of Women Engineers, and a board member of the National Society of Black Engineers. Recently, Henderson was selected as the Olay x Ebony STEM Queen Award. According to Henderson,what made her go into the STEM field were her role models in her family who are all engineers themselves, and she is regularly encouraged by a strong drive to help people.

“ Do not get afraid when being the only women in the room. Don’t let fear limit you,” said Henderson when asked what advice she would give to other young ladies who are trying to work in this field.

In the workplace, there are occasional events where women do not get the same treatment as males. Various women have had some type of negative experience or have witnessed the circumstance of bias in the workplace. Courtlynn Thomas, a senior Civil Engineer major from Opelousas, Louisiana stated she noticed, “ males getting more attention at times.”

Another woman in the STEM field, Amber Hickman, a senior accounting/mathematics major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana feels like she isn’t granted the same opportunities as males. She even said, “Sometimes no, I do not feel that I get the same opportunities because some think I can’t do as good of a job as my male counterparts. Which isn’t true, I can work just as hard as they can. Maybe even harder.” She goes on to state that a way this issue of bias can be resolved is by, “-having more support from our male counterparts that we are just as good as any other man in the field.”

Still not convinced why we should celebrate women in STEM? They are minorities that are breaking the box of stereotypes. Women have made just as much impact in STEM fields, and just because light is not shed on the contributions as much in history, that should not erase their achievements nor make them any less valuable.

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