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To My Girls in Science: Go Ahead, You’ve Earned It

Growing up, I wasn’t aware of the gender pay gap, which is at best 82 percent to a white man’s dollar for Caucasian women and worse still for minorities. I wasn’t aware that my aspirations in the medical field would probably be met by a thick glass ceiling as I advanced in my chosen profession. I didn’t know that I would have to be smarter, tougher, stronger than my peers to nab one of those few, coveted spots at the top. As a little kid, going to school in the heart of the Silicon Valley, I truly had no idea.

My parents taught me that I could do anything if I worked hard for it. They taught me to believe in myself and my capabilities, that the only thing that mattered was drive and the only thing that could hold me back was lack thereof. They taught me to earn my confidence. It wasn’t until I left this bubble of love and support that I learned anyone could think differently.

But it was this article, by one of my favorite comedy writers, actress Mindy Kaling, that really stood out to me. In it, she writes, “A general assumption about confidence is that women, particularly young women, will have very little of it, and girls will have zero of it … I get worried that telling girls how difficult it is to be confident implies a tacit expectation that girls won’t be able to do it.”

I don’t believe I was raised to be a confident woman. I was raised to be a confident person. I was raised, as Kaling puts it, to “work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.” I was raised to put in the time behind closed doors so I could walk into any room with my game face on. I think that’s why, after three years of relentless studying, countless failures, and now a botched presidency that makes me doubt if women’s rights have really made any progress at all, my dreams have only gotten bigger.

I am going to be a really awesome doctor, with a really awesome practice, and I’m going to change lives. I know I will do it, because I know that I can do it.  I’ve worked too hard to let anything stand in my way.

 

 

All photos courtesy of Liz Plank (go follow her!)

Victoria is a Nor-Cal transplant and fourth-year Biochemistry major at UCLA. She hopes to one day have marble kitchen countertops, own the perfect slouchy sweater, and be the kind of doctor who handpicks ornaments when she decorates her office for Christmas. 
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