Geeky Girl Reality

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Geeky Girl Reality helps girls find STEM-related gigs.

Gigs are opportunities: not quite a job, but maybe a kickstart to a STEM career.

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Latest articles from the Geeky Girl Reality Blog

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? Hi! I’m Katie Mummah, a nuclear engineering and graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I build and use computer models to study the lifecycle of uranium. I’m using these detailed computer models to help us predict and identify countries who are trying to build nuclear weapons while hiding that information from the world. I also consider myself a science communicator in my spare time. I share a lot of nuclear science and engineering through outreach events and on Twitter because nuclear science is a fun and diverse field! Most people don’t learn any nuclear science in school, so I think it’s really important to share the science as widely as I can. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I was always fascinated by complex things as a kid. Earth and space science excited me, and I still nurse a fascination with geology, atmospheric science, and astrophysics as interesting and deeply complex fields. But as I approached college, I started to care about clean energy, and I decided to become an engineer. I met some female nuclear engineers who told me that nuclear engineering was similar to mechanical engineering (much of the field is, though there are lots of parts that are closer to physics or chemical engineering) but all the class sizes were smaller (true) and that was a benefit if you go to a huge college with thousands of engineering students. I took my introductory nuclear classes in college and I fell in love. Never looked back! 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I’m a nuclear engineer because I really, deeply care about access to clean, abundant energy. I think everyone in the world deserves energy access, and I know that we can draw down our CO2 emissions by using all clean energy technologies like wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear energy. I want to help build that future. There is always more nuclear science to learn! Just in my day-to-day life as a nuclear engineer, I’ve had to learn physics, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, computer science, geology, political science, communications, and more! Nuclear engineering is interdisciplinary at its core, and that’s just so exciting! 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I’m in the middle of graduate school, and it can be hard sometimes. Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to minimize what is designed to be a huge challenge to help you grow. But I’ve learned that having hobbies is not only fun, but *essential* to keeping your stress levels low. When I’m stressed, I take a weekend to go camping or skiing and completely unplug from work and the fast pace of everyday life. I like to make little goals for my hobbies, which helps me feel successful. For example, I’m trying to visit every state park in Wisconsin and I’m learning to sail. No one should be required to have hobbies that are beneficial to their career, but you’d be surprised how much engineering relates to many hobbies! I use materials science knowledge when I blacksmith, and sailing is just applied fluid dynamics. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I don’t have one singular role model, but I have lots of people I consider mentors and/or role models. My advisor, several of my internship mentors, and a variety of (often female) academics, scientists, communicators, and more have given me inspiration and advice that I’ve used to help me chart my path forward. I do look up to some of the badass historical figures in nuclear science, like Chien-Shiung Wu and Maria Goeppert-Mayer. All women in STEM follow in their footsteps, and for that I’m forever grateful. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I’d tell myself to stop worrying about following the “right” or “best” path forward. I spent so many years trying to be perfect for everyone else in my life before I realized that I should do what makes ME happy first and foremost. Also, actually learn to study and write effectively back in high school. They’re really important skills. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Don’t let others define your story. Join whatever clubs you want, take the classes you find interesting, and pursue a career that interests you. Take advice from the older generations (especially those in your field) but remember that everyone has blind spots. People are going to advise you to follow in their footsteps— that’s one path forward, but not the only one. Good mentors will help you find YOUR best path forward. Everyone else is struggling, too. STEM is hard, college is hard, your problem sets are hard. If you’re struggling, that doesn’t mean you’re failing, in fact it means you’re succeeding! Don’t get scared off by difficult classes, and don’t be afraid to work with your peers and go to office hours. Keep an open mind and always be learning. I can’t even tell you the number of times I said “no I’ll never do that” to something, only to eventually realize I totally loved that thing! I went into college thinking I was going to get my bachelors and leave, I wanted to work in a commercial nuclear plant and work with my hands. Six years later, I’m in grad school doing computational research at a university I didn’t even want to apply to for undergrad because I didn’t like weather (turns out I do actually like the cold). Don’t close doors for yourself. 8. How do you measure your success? I measure success by how much I’m learning. If I’ve learned something, done something new each day, then I’m making progress. I also ask others-- am I doing enough? Good mentors will help you when you’re struggling. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? You can find more info about me on my website, nuclearkatie.com. You can contact me from there, follow me on Twitter from there, or check out my resume if you want to see my conference presentations and (someday) journal articles. 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? I am social! Twitter: @nuclearkatie (https://twitter.com/nuclearkatie) LinkedIn: nuclearkatie (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nuclearkatie/) STEM Instagram: vintage_nuclear (https://www.instagram.com/vintage_nuclear/)
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Marjorie Abdelkrime, professionally my title is Chief of Staff, that means I lead all execution of vision and strategy for the organization I work for, the Solution Engineering Org at VMware. Personally I am an ally and advocate for equality and equity in the workplace. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? Chaos seems to be how I end up in every new point in my career. I call it good chaos though. It is important to look at every situation put in front of you and look at how it can be made to make things better for you. My current role Chief of Staff is a role that I bumped into as I looked to enter a company that I felt would be a good place for me personally and professionally. However as I looked at the role and what it could do, I felt it was a role that was created for me at this point in time in my life and career journey. The culmination of my work experiences as a professional services consultant and solution engineer has allowed for me to have a unique perspective in this role and to ensure that we take a point of view that helps improve our effectiveness as a team. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? My why: My Why is to inspire and uplift others to shatter boundaries so that they become impactful contributors of society. Secondly the people I am surrounded by, I will always say this, the people around you will make or break your ability to execute on a personal and professional level. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I take a moment to look at where I came from and how far my journey has taken me. I come from an immigrant family that worked hard to ensure that my siblings and I had a roof over our heads and food on the table. I realize that those before me had it especially hard for me to be where I am today. That sets so much into perspective for me. I am blessed with good health a great career and amazing people that surround me from my family and friends to my coworkers. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I always struggle with this question the reason is my role models change from topic that I need to the time I am in my life. Lately I have found myself quoting a lot of Brenee Brown. She is a thought leader in the space of vulnerability and courage. Which at this point in my life I am doing a lot of. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? Always speak your mind. I have many instances that I have thought back to and regretted not saying something. I would say it is important that we feel that we are expressing ourselves without regret. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Always have the confidence that you know what you are talking about if that is an area of expertise you have. Do not let others tell you what you know. Network, spend time meeting new people in the field you are looking to take your career into. If you are still in school, ask your parents to assist with this one. Ask, I was once told by a colleague of mine, “What’s the worst that can happen when you ask? someone will say no. But you will not know that if you don’t ask.” 8. How do you measure your success? Did I get the customer impact I was expecting? My role has an impact on the people I work with as well as the customers we engage. If the people I work with are unable to ensure that customers are solving their business problems because of initiatives that I have launched, then that means I have failed. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? If you are looking to find out more about the role of a Chief of Staff here is a neat little article that gives you the gist of what the role is about. The CoS role is one that varies from Company to Company but also even within a Company it can vary from org to org. https://medium.com/@juliadewahl/the-chief-of-staff-role-in-silicon-valley-182eb93e636e 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Yes!! I love connecting with new people! I share stories at times on LinkedIn and Twitter. Twitter: MarjAStem   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marjorieabdelkrime/
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Ileana Crudu, and I have always been a fan of STEAM. I am the ambassador of a project called GirlsGoIT, where we empower girls in and through technology.  2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I grew up in a post-soviet country. Back in early 2000, my older sister had a computer, which was extremely rare. I think we were the only family on the street that had a computer at that time. First thing I did to that computer was to disassemble it so I can see how that fan works. I loved to build and disassemble items. Girls my age had barbies and dolls; I had my toolbox. So, I guess I have always known I wanted to study and work in STEAM. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I have always been a curious person. STEAM does not let allow to get bored. I try to wake up with a smile on my face every single morning. If that does not happen, there is coffee to solve the problem. My dream is to get to that point where girls are not a minority in this field, and STEAM education is accessible to every single kid. Until then, there is no time to rest. So I guess my biggest motivation is my goal of having equal representation, opportunity and pay for women in STEAM.  4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Whenever I feel stressed, I take a break from work and do something that loses me up. Most of the time, I pun on my Queen playlist and go for a walk.  5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I do not have a role model. I think it is quite dangerous to idolatrize someone. But I try to learn and get inspired by everyone I know. I learnt from my mom to be grateful, from my sister to fight for everything I want, from my college professors that there is more to life than just academia. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? To stop stressing out over minor things. Take a long breath and start thinking about how you can solve a problem. If it seems complicated, think of the problem as a computer science assignment and divide the problem into smaller, simpler problems that are easy to solve. If things don't work out at all, go out and enjoy some coffee. There was no problem from the beginning. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? The Holy Grail of success in any field is NETWORK! Meet people that have the same passions as you and people that are total opposites of you. They are a free source of inspiration. Another tip is to be perseverent. You might not get that internship that you wanted. It's okay. Apply to as many as you need until you get one. Last, do what you love and love what you do. Life is too short to spend it doing things that don't matter to you. 8. How do you measure your success? If the work I do makes a difference for a young woman, that is enough for me. If a girl chooses a career in STEAM after being in our program, I consider it a success. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? You can find everything about GirlsGoIT on our website, https://girlsgoit.org/. You can also check out some youtube videos about our STEM summer camp and testimonial from our girls. You can only check my twitter, @IleanaCrudu , for more information.  10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? You can find me on Twitter and Instagram: @IleanaCrudu
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Maryam Zaringhalam and I’m a biologist by training who now works in science policy and science communication. I wear three broad hats: I’m an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, a Senior Producer for the Story Collider, and a leadership member of 500 Women Scientists. All of that work really boils down to answering this question: how can I help open up science to the public and make more folks feel like they belong and have some ownership over what it is scientists do? 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I entered grad school thinking I wanted to be a professor, leading my own lab. But pretty quickly into my graduate career, I realized I was more interested in bringing people into the experience of what it was like to do science, rather than doing science myself. So I started exploring careers outside of academia that were more public facing through a podcast I started with a few of my friends at school called Science Soapbox. We got to talk to a bunch of really impressive thinkers working at the intersection of science, policy, and advocacy, many of whom had done the science policy fellowship I now hold. I’m still figuring out exactly the direction I want my career to take, but as long as I’m learning, I’m happy! 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I’m not sure if this is the healthiest thing, but probably Twitter! Scrolling through my timeline first thing in the morning, I see what so many amazing folks are up to that it makes me jump up, ready to join in. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I struggle a lot with anxiety, and especially negative self talk. Something that really helps calm my thoughts is exercise; I’m a huge fan of group fitness classes and being outside. Doing something physically intensive makes me focus more on what my body is doing and gives me less of a chance to think—and especially to think bad thoughts. It’s kind of like a mental reset. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I don’t have a specific role model, but I’ll share some women who are doing phenomenal work I admire. Liz Neeley and Erin Barker lead the Story Collider team and constantly remind me that it’s possible to lead with compassion and be extremely effective. Then there are the women who have built powerful online communities: Kelly Ramirez-Donders and Jane Zelikova who launched 500 Women Scientists ; Jedidah Isler founded Vanguard STEM ; Giovanna Guerrero Medina and Mónica Feliú-Mójer direct Ciencia Puerto Rico ; Stephani Page launched #BlackAndSTEM ; Christine Liu coordinates The STEM Squad . And I also have to shout out the incredible Jess Wade , who creates a new Wikipedia page a day for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM—and whose boundless energy constantly inspires me. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? Failure is frequent and inevitable, and so learn to embrace and not feel ashamed of it as soon as possible. I struggled a lot with anxiety in high school and through college because I felt very much like I had to stick to a strict schedule and if things didn’t go exactly according to plan, I was a failure. But in science, we’re asking really big questions of the unknown, and so we fail all the time. My big wish for young scientists is that they feel comfortable talking about failure, so they can learn and grow from it. Talking about failure is how we’re better equipped to succeed! Also, I wish that Angela Saini’s Inferior: How science got women wrong and the new research that’s correcting the record had existed when I was younger. I recommend everyone—and especially young women—read it since she systematically debunks every myth that falsely states that women are intrinsically inferior to men. Myth busting is a real power! 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Understand that you belong in science. Grow a network that shares your values and love of science. I’ve found a great community and learned so much through social media. To find great folks, I recommend following @500womensci , @theSTEMSquad , @VanguardSTEM , @500queersci , @cienciaPR , and @realscientists . Asking questions or seeking clarification makes you smart, not dumb. (It took me an eternity to learn this!) 8. How do you measure your success? I wish I had a better answer for this, but it’s a combination of how proud I am of my work and some degree of external validation from mentors and peers. I’m still working on how to better define success for myself so I rely less on the input of others, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not something I look for—especially since my work is so outward facing. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? You can find me on Twitter @webmz_ or see some of my work and appearances at webmz.nyc . 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? I’m on Twitter and Instagram @webmz_ . You can also connect with me on Linkedin , though please include a message!
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Cathy Moya and I work for Microsoft in a Customer Experience Engineering team. My job is to connect our engineers and our customers so we can build the best possible products based on deep, honest feedback. I manage our Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (MVPs) for System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune, and Windows for IT. I manage our online suggestion box called UserVoice. And I created an initiative called #WomenITPros to help invite and support women in tech careers that don’t involve coding, because there’s A LOT more to working in tech than being able to code. I’ve had a variety of jobs at Microsoft since 2002 and none of them involved writing code. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? If you had told me 20 years ago this is what I’d be doing with my life I would have laughed. I was a theater major. I love theater, but I realized I didn’t love it in the way I’d need to in order to make a living at it. I also loved tech - I was really good at the one computer class they started my senior year of high school, but no one ever said, “Hey, Cathy, you know you could major in computers instead of theater?” I just didn’t think that was for me. But even back in the 80’s there was a lot of tech in theater - I wrote my plays on early word processors on early PCs, I much preferred using computerized lighting boards when I did lighting design, we were starting to use AutoCAD for other designs. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? My personal mission statement is “helping people understand things better”. The more my job is about that, the more I love it. Right now I help our MVPs understand our products better and they turn around and help our user community. I also connect our MVPs with our engineers so the product team can truly understand what our users need. I am inspired now to tackle a problem I see that contributes to the lack of diversity in tech - if we make it sound like you aren’t welcome in tech unless you know how to code, we’re losing talent that could find other roles in the tech world. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, did an amazing experiment with dogs. To sum it up, they had one group of dogs who could stop a shock by pushing a button with their noses, and a second group of dogs who had to wait for some other dog to stop the shock but couldn’t stop it on their own. In phase 2 of the experiment, the dogs could stop the shock by jumping over a low wall. They found the dogs in the first group quickly learned to jump away from the shock, but the dogs in the second group, the ones who couldn’t stop the shock at first, just stayed there. They “learned” that nothing they could do would change their situation, but they were wrong. When I feel stuck and stressed, I have to look for the things I can change. There’s always something I can change, even if it’s just my attitude about what’s happening to me. If I let myself believe things are hopeless and I can’t change anything, then I will stay stuck. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I don’t have a role model in the sense of “I’m not out there trying to do what they do” or thinking “what would she do in this situation?”, but Dona Sarkar is an inspiration to me. Her passion and energy are amazing. I saw her speak at the Women’s Conference at Microsoft several years ago and I was riveted by every word. I love how she brings together fashion and technology. I love how she is helping others pursue their dreams with her book #do the thing. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would love to go back and have myself read Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg years ago. He brings together emotional intelligence and communication skills in a very unique way. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Find what you love and do it, even if it isn’t considered STEM. There is technology in everything, so seek out the technology parts of the thing you love to do and master those. Read the manuals. If the documentation is well-written, you can learn a lot from taking the time to read it through. And working in the ITPro world is a lot of “Read the ‘fine’ manual”, also known as RTFM. If the manuals aren’t good, or aren’t getting you want you need, go online and find other sources - user communities, meet ups, conferences. There’s a lot of info out there. (And if there isn’t, learn it yourself and start creating your own content!) Never be afraid to ask for what you want. There are always people out there willing to help you, if only because they were helped once upon a time. You will have people say no, but you will probably get more yesses than no’s. 8. How do you measure your success? Probably not enough. :-) I tend to dwell more on my failures than measure or celebrate my success. I’m working on savoring my accomplishments. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I have a FAQ about #WomenITPros at https://aka.ms/womenitpros. You can learn more about the Microsoft MVP program at https://mvp.microsoft.com. You can see the moderation I do on UserVoice at https://microsoftintune.uservoice.com. 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Twitter: @CxPCathy LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cxpcathy/ - if you mention #WomenITpros, I will accept your friend request.
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Bianca Vasquez. I am a college student, currently an intern for Virgin Orbit, & the founder of an international organization, Society of Women in Space Exploration (SWISE). 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I always had an interest in space, but never saw it as a career path. I wasn’t very aware of STEM careers until college and even then, felt that it wasn’t for me. I started learning about the new space industry through the internet, became more interested this exciting world, and decided to pursue it. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? As a founder of an organization, the women involved in our initiative inspire me everyday. They are passionate, motivated, and hard workers. I always want to do my absolute best in order for this organization to grow, be healthy, and benefit everyone involved! As an intern, I am excited to get out of bed every morning knowing I am in such a great position! I get to work on a rocket engine and be around some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met during a significant time in space exploration. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Stress is inevitable, but I try to convert it into positive energy. I remember I am stressed because I have tons of good work to do on my plate. I have wonderful responsibilities. Time management is definitely something I’ve had to learn to master. The better my time is managed, the less stress I have. While the workload is still the same, it’s at least have it organized! Getting things done feels great! 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I do not have one particular role model- but I do admire a handful of women who are absolutely killing it in their industries! There are certain things about every one of them that I absolutely adore, and I channel those qualities for myself. It’s like putting my favorite things about these women in a blender and creating a smoothie of ultimate awesomeness! I admire Rihanna (a brilliant businesswoman), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (worked her way from the bottom, is incredibly intelligent and strong), & Mae Jemison (courageous and paved the way for women of color in space). 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would tell myself to be fearless and unapologetic about who I am, what I know, and my journey. For the longest time, I tried to blend in with the boys so that I would not stand out in STEM. Truth is, as a woman, I will stand out no matter what! Mine as well be yourself! Through fear of being seen as “dumb,” I was afraid of asking questions and being bold. This restricts opportunities for learning and growing. Now, I am not afraid to admit I don’t know something. I ask. I learn. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Meet as many people as you can. Network with purpose. Talk to people because you genuinely want to talk to them, people are interesting! Have friends outside of your industry. While it’s great to have friends who do what you do and understand your world, I found that having friends in other industries (fashion, business, finance, you name it) is incredibly refreshing. Having interests outside of your field is important to keep you well rounded. Learn from others, and let others learn from you! Ask questions, tons of them! People who are passionate about what they do are usually happy to answer questions. Sometimes ideas or concepts seem very difficult to understand and we spend tons of time trying to understand, when someone can explain it simply and quickly! 8. How do you measure your success? I measure success by the feelings I get. When I feel excited, motivated, and have butterflies in my stomach- I know something great is happening. When I feel good, I know I am doing well. If I don’t feel great, I know I can work on some things to change it. The goal is to be happy! Successes, both big and small, make me happy! “Failures” and “mistakes” are just opportunities to become better and have that much more success when I figure the problems out. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? My social media: Instagram: @PinkRocketship Twitter: @PinkRocketship My organization’s website is http://SWISE.org Instagram: @SWISEofficial Twitter: @SWISEofficial Credits to @cherthismoment who took the amazing photo of me in the pink suit. 😍
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