We all grow up with role models. Those who inspire us, and those who we aspire to become. Those who make a difference to our lives, or to the world. The best thing about role models is that they’re individual to us. Whatever they represent, how close they are to us, whether they’re a loved one or a renowned figure, is entirely defined by us. We can pick and choose the attributes we want to replicate, and mould that around our own personalities and interests, to become the best self we want to present.
Hence, in this blog post, I will be elaborating on one of my role models who have made a significant impact on revolutionising perceptions of women in STEM and education.
Discovering Katherine Johnson initially in Hidden Figures (highly recommended), she was one of the first influential, underrepresented individuals in science that has inspired me . The film highlights the journey of three African-American female mathematicians working for NASA in calculating the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Considering these events took place in the 1960s, both sexism and racism were extremely rampant and the professional integrity of these women were severely undermined. We’ve all heard of the stereotype of women merely being useful for coffee runs in the workplace, or having their ideas laughed at in the boardroom by a bunch of privileged, entitled white men, but what inspired me most about Johnson, is how she came to make change and take credit for her contributions. From dilapidating the enforcement of ‘coloured people’ bathrooms and computers to simply striving to have her name as author on a report, she quickly rose up the ranks, and was able to demonstrate her true intellect. Said intellect and relentlessness went on to formulate endless equations that predicted Glenn’s trajectories and what latitude and longitude he would land at, without any imperfections. Her logic and her numbers showed no flaws.
She is a prime example of speaking your mind, and proving your worth. Not staying quiet if you wholeheartedly believe you are being wronged, especially as a result of your race or your sex. Enabling yourself to have the same opportunities, in such a male-dominated field such as STEM, even if it means pushing and shoving your way through to rise to the top. Johnson has illustrated to me that actions prove more impact than boycotting. In a world where senior level jobs, especially in STEM careers are dominated by men, if change is necessary, and if change is not in the process of being implemented, I strive to be part of driving that change forward.. She’s inspired me to be someone who is heard, and merited for my abilities, intellect and scientific thoughts. Someone who is respected and appreciated in the workplace, and beyond. Someone who everyone deserves the right to be.
You might be wondering at this point who She Who Innovates is for. Is it only for young girls who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM? Simply put, the answer is no. Yes, She Who Innovates is for the girl who is passionate about coding or nanomedicine, but it is also for the girl who appreciates the influence of artificial intelligence and technology arising in their own desired industry, the girl who wants to redefine perceptions of women in the workplace. But most importantly, it is for the girl who has a predisposed sense of curiosity and wants to take everything they learn and apply it to wherever they see will benefit them most in their future. This event is for every girl who wants to pave their own way in life, make their own decisions and career choices through every mistake or hardship; this one is for the innovators.
Tuning out, Sun~
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