Being The Only Girl In My STEM Class

With the second semester of classes resuming both in-person and those on Zoom, which makes us wish we were still home on break, students are finding themselves once again engulfed by new courses, topics, and connections. Nursing students take on new clinical rotations and education majors have their placements are conducted from their beds. 

As for me, I have found myself fulfilling an elective with an Introduction to Engineering course. I am the only woman of five men, one being remote, comfortably in his $479 E-Win gaming chair. This feels like a loss for me because I know I am going to seemy fellow students not interact with me for being the only female presence. 

Lucky for me, my mandated partner is the one with the gaming chair, but I am even luckier to have a female professor present in the room; not just for my comfort, but as proof of women being an active component of STEM/Education. 

Growing up with an engineer as a father and a mother as a physician I had the opportunity to see female presence in the workforce at the same level as that of anyone. My dad always worked on projects: taking them apart and putting them back together, even if it was at half the capacity of functioning it was before. When I mentioned I enrolled in this course, really with no option, he was glad to know I was at least learning something meaningful to him. 

I had my first tangible assignment, and for internship reasons, I had missed that instructional lecture. I arranged to pick the materials at a later time to complete the activity and current to the times, it was a valentines day card. I swear we do actual assignments but this is as introductory as they come; making a circuit to power a LED battery. 

This is what everyone first learns in science class from 5th grade when dealing with magnets to then basic physics class and energy conversion theories. My first experience details back further to an afternoon with my dad as we looked through an activities book trying to figure out how to spend the day. After flipping pages of friendship bracelets and things that my dad generally did not have an interest in, we found the craft “how to make a flashlight out of a fork”. This simple design, consisting of a light bulb and wire connected to a battery hot-glued onto a plastic fork from the Chinese restaurant would be a memory soldered into my brain as a reminder of my dad’s expertise and value of engineering. 

So, building off that fork, I had the upper hand of going through another activity with my dad some 15 years later. Who knows, maybe those five other boys will grow up and teach each their daughters a simple circuit of electrical energy, and if not, I know I will. 

This is how it turned out after much franticness from my end and the guidance of my dad as well as the instructions that will be linked and available to download.