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? My name is Monica Burns. I am a former NYC public school teacher and EdTech & Curriculum Consultant. I run the blog classtechtips.com, host the Easy EdTech Podcast, and have written several books on educational 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? After working as a classroom teacher, I started leading professional development for teachers. I love working in classrooms and excited to still have the opportunity to work with students on a regular basis. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I love connecting with other educators and sharing ideas related to EdTech. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? My network of fellow educators has definitely helped moments of self-doubt or questioning the direction of my work. I’ve been very lucky to have met so many passionate educators who do similar work as I do the past few years. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? My mother was a high school teacher for many years and taught me so much about valuing my professional community. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would take more pictures! Bulletin boards, exemplars, you name it. Now taking pictures happens every moment of the day but in the past I wasn’t snapping like I am today. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Anyone starting STEM can set a purpose for their learning such as solving a problem find a community of other students excited about STEM share what they are learning with others. 8. How do you measure your success? As a professional development provider, I am always looking to see if my message is resonating and brought into everyday teaching and learning. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I share new blog posts each week on my website ClassTechTips.com. This is also where you can find my new podcast, the Easy EdTech Podcast. 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? I would love to connect, and my social handle is @classtechtips Email: monica@classtechtips.com Twitter: @ClassTechTips Facebook: ClassTechTips Instagram: @ClassTechTips Pinterest: ClassTechTips YouTube: ClassTechTips  
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Sophia Lee. By day I am a Software Developer at Microsoft where I work with a team of developers to create one of the largest news sites in the world. By night I am a Transgender Social Activist who works to bring social justice to Transgender people. 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 loved programming, ever since I was little, and I had a talent for it. It was a difficult path for me to get to where I am though. As an Immigrant, Transgender Woman of Color I had to navigate unique challenges to learn how to leverage my backgrounds to become the person I am today. Now my software development skills have developed into a tool that I use to fight for social justice. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? As a software developer I can create tools that can change the world. Applications that are used by millions of people. Software that enable people to achieve more. I love taking my talents and lifting up other people. 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 go up to the rooftop of my apartment complex and I look out at the amazing world we get to live in. The lights of the city, the snowy mountain peaks, and the beautiful blue sea. It gives me peace. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I never had a specific role model growing up. So, I decided to become the role model that the younger me would have wanted to have. I want to show people that Immigrant, Transgender Women of Color could be smart, pretty, strong, well-spoken and successful. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? Come out of the closet earlier. You will still be loved. Be truthful to yourself. Follow your heart. Trust in your ability to survive. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Don't just concentrate on STEM. Take art, minority studies, learn an instrument, and pick up a sport. Become a well-rounded person.. STEM is hard, but it is worth it. You are here because you are just as smart and talented as everyone else. Don't lose faith in yourself. Don't change who you are for STEM. STEM needs people of all diversities and backgrounds. Embrace your differences. 8. How do you measure your success? I measure my success in my reach for social change. My STEM background is a building block to bring about social justice for all. I believe that technology can be the tool that equalizes the playing field for all people. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? https://genderjusticeleague.org https://transgirltheory.com 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Find me on twitter at @geekgirl1024 LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/in/sophia-lee-b359406/
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Jenny Saucerman. I’m an instructional designer: someone who makes online education to teach adults skills for their workplaces. A big part of my job is making educational games and simulations which is pretty awesome! I also work with learning analytics and using statistics to help me understand whether the content I create is effective at teaching my learners. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a master’s degree in educational psychology with a focus on educational gaming. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? Instructional design is interesting because it’s a career path nobody really decides to pursue: it’s usually happenstance that you find yourself doing it. When I was in high school all the way through the end of grad school, I wanted to be a psychology professor. I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology and enrolled in a PhD program. After five years I decided that being a professor wasn’t for me. This was a hard decision to make as that goal had shaped my life for the past 10 years! I talked to a career counselor who recommended that I look into instructional design jobs. It was hard to get my foot in the door as I didn’t have the usual background experience with course development programs. But one company saw my potential and decided to take a chance with hiring me. I realized it was a great fit for me, and I’ve been working as an instructional designer since. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I work for a company that gives me a lot of creative freedom and resources to create awesome content. I love prototyping my crazy ideas and getting positive feedback. It can be easy to get lost in the nitty gritty details of my projects, so I try to think back on positive feedback from learners and fellow instructional designers when I’m having a hard time. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Having a network of people, personal and professional, has been a lifesaver for me. If I’m stuck on a problem, it usually means that I’m missing a piece of information and I need to talk to someone about it. If I’m stressed out, talking to my husband, friends, and family usually helps. If you’re experiencing stress for a prolonged period of time, talking to a therapist or counselor is helpful too. If nobody is available to talk or I want to be alone, I go for a walk. I look at the trees and the birds and try to put my problems into perspective. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I think idolizing people strips them of their humanity, so I don’t think having a role model is very helpful to me. I’m a human with human problems, so I can’t learn too much from someone I think is a total rockstar who has their life all put together. Because nobody does! I have learned so much from my favorite professors and my friends by watching them be regular (but awesome!) people and talking to them about their successes and their struggles. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? The future you’re working so hard for? I’m living in it, and it’s wonderful. It doesn’t look the way you think it will, but everything you’re doing is worth it. Just go with the flow. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Failure is fundamental to the learning process. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to get the wrong answer. You’re going to plug the cord into the wrong spot. Your code isn’t going to work on the first try. Now that you know this, let yourself try new things and get the wrong answer and keep trying even if it doesn’t work immediately. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Think creatively and then critically. Don’t shoot down your ideas right away. Take a moment to consider why that idea came to you: you might notice features that’ll inspire a better solution. Having hobbies outside your field is very important. I’ve always played with drawing and graphic design as a personal artistic outlet as I studied psychology, statistics, and programming, and I’m so glad I did! I use graphic design almost every day in my job now. Having outside interests will help you make connections between concepts that wouldn’t occur to people who only did STEM work all the time. 8. How do you measure your success? I consider a project successful when I want other people to play through it and tell me what they think of it. It means I did well enough to want to show it off and watch people as they experience what I’ve made. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I post about my work on twitter mostly. If you Google my name, you can also read guest blog posts I’ve written or listen to a podcast I was on (https://www.sproutlabs.com.au/blog/assessment-in-elearning/) 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? @jennysaucerman is my twitter handle. You can also add me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennysaucerman/
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? I'm Julia, and I am a space roboticist who also loves art and science communication. I’m a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow and this summer I am at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where I work on making cool sensors for even cooler robots. My current project at NASA is with an origami-inspired robot called PUFFER. Outside of that, you can find me at Stanford University, where I'm a PhD student studying robotics. I graduated in 2018 with a B.S. at Columbia University in Electrical Engineering, where I was dedicated to student activities such as the Columbia Space Initiative, Women in Computer Science, and the student Makerspace. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? Oh no, definitely not! I was going to go to an art college for undergraduate studies. I've always thought space and robots were cool, but I never considered actually doing it for a career until I went to college and started the Columbia Space Initiative, now an award-winning engineering student group. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I love my job because I get to try out cool and crazy ideas. Some of those ideas are bad, some of them are good - and some of them will eventually make it to outer space, your school textbooks, or art museums. What could be cooler than being able to help invent the future? For the aspiring space roboticists in the crowd, NASA JPL is a great place to be! In addition to PUFFER, there’s plenty of other cutting-edge robots that even interns can work on. For instance, JPL has a team participating in the latest DARPA subterranean challenge called CoSTAR and I have several friends working on this for their internship! 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Everyone experiences stress or self-doubt at least once in their lives. For me, it helps to remember all that my family has overcome to even get to this point. My grandparents are peasant farmers from China, with an elementary school level of education, having dropped out of school to work. My parents immigrated and learned the way of new country, America, where they didn't speak the language and didn't have any money. I am the first in my entire family to be born outside of China. When I am stressed, I remember that I never face my problems alone, and that no problems are truly insurmountable. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I have had so many role models and mentors to look up to, both in my field and in my personal life, that it's hard to pick just one. Though not all of them may look like me, they all share positive qualities that I hope to integrate in my own life. But my answer would have to be my mother - Chinese culture is traditionally patriarchal, and she broke the mold by raising me to value my independence and self-sufficiency. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would tell myself, and still tell myself today, to not worry about the future and career paths. It's okay to be unsure of what you want to do, or who you want to be. Keep good company (friends and family) and work hard to support yourself and pursue your goals. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? First, focus and learn. No matter how many roadblocks you hit, or how many naysayers you face - if you cultivate your talent in science/engineering/math/technology, you will find a place in the STEM fields. Focus on improving your skills, and don't waste energy on negative influences and naysayers. Second, speak up. If you come up with an idea, just say it! Don't be afraid of if it's "right" or "wrong" or if a boy is going to say the same idea 10 seconds later. Ask a lot of questions and don't be afraid if some of them seem stupid Often, the "stupid" questions I ask end up being very important because they point out something, some design issue, that everyone else overlooked! You are smart and capable, but you have to show it by advocating for yourself. Third, use your uniqueness to your advantage. Because of the gender inequity in STEM fields, being a woman or gender minority is an automatic way of standing out in a crowd. Use that to your advantage when meeting people, networking, and learning about new things. 8. How do you measure your success? By how happy I am to share it with my family and friends. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? For organizations and fellowships that I am part of, you can check out the following links: PUFFER: https://spectrum.ieee.org/video/aerospace/robotic-exploration/puffer-nasa-origami-inspired-robot NASA Research Fellowship: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/strg/nstrf_2018/ Brooke Owens Fellowship: http://www.brookeowensfellowship.org/julia-di Columbia Space Initiative: http://columbiaspace.org 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? For my social media, you can find me on Twitter: @astroboticist Instagram: @astroboticist LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/JuliaDi
With a high school background in mathematics and science, Tshireletso Kgabi’s interest in engineering occurred rather naturally; “I have always loved the challenge of being in a constant state of learning and critical thinking which develops an enquiring mind to solve technical and scientific problems. This developed my sense to understand and contribute to engineering issues,” Kgabi elaborates. She completed her National Diploma in Electrical Engineering: Computer Systems at the Vaal University of Technology, where her interest in engineering increased as she became acquainted with tools and materials in the different labs. “The idea of programming a PLC, developing logic circuits, construction and testing of an electronic device… didn’t seem far-fetched after all,” she explains. She is currently in the final year of her Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems degree at Tshwane University of Technology. She plans on studying further by taking on postgraduate research. Kgabi also currently works as a Cyber Security Engineer, a big part of her work involves ensuring that the necessary security controls are in place to protect an organization’s confidential digital data, infrastructure, identity and access management. This includes planning, implementing, managing, monitoring and upgrading security measures for the protection of systems, networks, and data. “Day-to-day tasks and activities can vary for cyber security engineers, depending on where they work and the types of systems and networks, they’re responsible for protecting,” Kgabi explains. Kgabi is excited by the challenges that the nature of her work as a cyber security engineer offers her, “because of the intimate connection between engineering and cyber security, I developed a spark to take on the challenge to protect systems of an organization against the countless and growing number of threats in cyberspace. Knowing how to build infrastructure and devices as an engineer is one thing but being able to understand how to build that infrastructure so it can better withstand attacks is absolutely critical,” she emphasises. Kgabi was not only the first South African, but also the first Africa to become a CyberArk Delivery Engineer and the youngest technical cyber security lady in the PAM (Privileged and Access Management) domain. She has also been featured on Geekulcha Young Geeks as the first Cyber Security Engineer on their platform. She describes her experience in the STEM field as tough at times, “I make sure I have the skills needed and tools, and also people skills. I have learned how crucial it is to build up my confidence… and believe in what I do. My experience has taught me to… take on challenges head on, Kgabi explains. Her advice to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field is to keep up with the latest trends in their field; “being smart or clever alone isn’t enough to succeed; perseverance, resilience, consistency and mental strength goes a long way. Acquire as much knowledge as possible and apply it, not only to practical problems, but to your mind and everyday life to improve your skills and to remain consistent. Don’t sleep on yourself! Resilience and consistent will take you far!” Kgabi definitely believes that Africa is a “land of opportunity”, but that the pace of change and technological advancements is slow. She points out that as our lives become more digitalised, cyber security becomes a critical issue; “cybercriminals have matured their tools to the point where they have developed capabilities that were once the reserve of nation states. And we need to keep up as cybersecurity skills are not in abundance in South Africa,” she emphasises. She feels that it is vital to overcome the gender gap within STEM, “an undeniable gender gap within the STEM field and African women play a critical role in the field’s advancement as we see the world in a different aspect which has proven to be powerful,” Kgabi elaborates. Her insight into achieving work-life balance is “to prioritize your time by taking on your most important tasks first and tackle the rest by priority. At the end day, take time to do a little reflection... Eat healthy and exercise to maintain a mind and body balance which is just as important…I reward myself for the progress I make which gives me an extra push to take on the next day.” Read more about our Geeky Girl, Tshireletso Kgabi, in an insightful interview below which will put you at ease about the confidentiality of our online presence, knowing that our digital data is safe in her capable hands. 1. Describe what your work entails. As a cyber-security engineer, a large part of my work takes place in fast-paced and complex environments. While there are some aspects of my work that are done daily, work as a cyber-security engineer is hardly a routine. You’ll never really know what your day will be like until it happens. There are times when I may be required to work odd hours and even overtime. The biggest part of my work is ensuring that the necessary security controls are consistently in place to protect an organization’s confidential digital data, infrastructure and identity and access management. This will also include planning, implementing, managing, monitoring, and upgrading security measures for the protection of systems, networks, and data. All this aligned with security compliance and governance. Day-to-day tasks and activities can vary for cyber security engineers, depending on where they work and the types of systems and networks, they’re responsible for protecting. So, a typical day might find me troubleshooting security and network problems, responding to system and network security incidents and testing and identifying system vulnerabilities as well as configuring security systems. A threat or an attack will always take precedence over daily activities, but when your organization is not under attack, that pretty much sums up my day-to-day. 2. Describe your STEM journey. My interest and involvement in engineering happened quite naturally with a high school background in maths and science. This inspired the curiosity of knowing how devices are build, how things are invented and how everything relates to each other systematically. I have always loved the challenge of being in a constant state of learning and critical thinking which develops an enquiring mind to solve technical and scientific problems. This developed my sense to understand and contribute to engineering issues. I completed my National Diploma in Electrical Engineering: Computer Systems at the Vaal University of Technology. During my time at VUT my interest in engineering got amplified as I got acquainted with all the tools and material in the different labs. The idea of programming a PLC, developing logic circuits, construction and testing of an electronic device and designing and implementing an industry related project didn’t seem far-fetched after all. I then proceeded to do my Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems at Tshwane University of Technology of which I am currently in my final year and will be furthering my post graduate studies after that. 3. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? As an engineer you are in a constant state of critical thinking and when you pair that up with cyber security, you then understand the motivation and method of cyber attackers which enables to create better infrastructure to help prevent cybercrime. Because of the intimate connection between engineering and cyber security, I developed a spark to take on the challenge to protect systems of an organization against the countless and growing number of threats in cyberspace. Knowing how to build infrastructure and devices as an engineer is one thing but being able to understand how to build that infrastructure so it can better withstand attacks is absolutely critical. It also excites me that, as a woman in engineering and cyber security that I am contributing to closing the gender gap that exists within the fields and being among part of field with scarce resources and crucial importance with room for pioneering. 4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space? My experience has been tough at times as breaking through the STEM space as a young woman can be challenging. You need hard skills to get ahead in the industry. You need to know what you’re talking about when it comes to cyber security and IT structure. Having training is a definite! I make sure I have the skills needed and tools, and also people skills. I have learned how crucial it is to build up my confidence and stand up for yourself and believe in what I do. My experience has taught me to be thick-skinned and take on challenges head on. Being a woman in a male dominated field isn't always easy. It takes courage and fortitude. - Amy Brachio 5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field? Technology is always changing, so you have to keep up with the latest trends within in your field; keep constantly learning. Being smart or clever alone isn’t enough to succeed; perseverance, resilience, consistency and mental strength goes a long way. Acquire as much knowledge as possible and apply it, not only to practical problems, but to your mind and everyday life to improve your skills and to remain consistent. Don’t sleep on yourself! Resilience and consistent will take you far! And remember you inspire people who pretend like they don’t see you and your contributions in STEM as a woman are important. 6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”? Africa is definitely a “land of opportunity” the only thing we might lack is the fact that we are changing at a slow pace and our technological advancements can be a bit slow. We are in a state of change brought by powerful new technologies and our lives have become digitised and the matter of cyber security is gaining popularity as one of the critical issues of our time. The scary reality is that over the past few years, cybercriminals have matured their tools to the point where they have developed capabilities that were once the reserve of nation states. And we need to keep up as cybersecurity skills are not in abundance in South Africa. Africa has proven to bounce back from obstacles thrown at it and we are benefiting from having women in STEM who are able to approach these challenges and play a critical role in developing the continent. There is an undeniable gender gap within the STEM field and African women play a critical role in the field’s advancement as we see the world in a different aspect which has proven to be powerful. 7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career? Being the first in South Africa and Africa to become a CyberArk Delivery Engineer and the youngest technical cyber security lady in the PAM (Privileged and Access Management) domain. I also featured on Geekulcha Young Geeks as the first Cyber Security Engineer on their platform. The feature is on the below links: https://geekulcha.com/young-geeks https://blog.geekulcha.com/top15younggeeks-meet-tshireletso-kgabi/ 8. How do you maintain a work-life balance? It is important to prioritize your time by taking on your most important tasks first and tackle the rest by priority. At the end day, take time to do a little reflection. Ask yourself what worked for you today, what did not, what went wrong and how can you do things differently. Eat healthy and exercise to maintain a mind and body balance which is just as important. The moment you feel mentally worn out and tired, your personal and work life goes off balance; mental health is also important. Take time for a break both physically and mentally; this helps you to recharge and keep in touch with family and friends. I reward myself for the progress I make which gives me an extra push to take on the next day. 9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you? I am inspired by my mother who has taught me that learning from the circumstances of your decisions is important for your growth. She has always stressed to me the importance of having a relationship with God and having a strong support structure. Her diversity within the fields she has worked in such as STEM, agriculture, chemistry and environmental science and being a natural scientist, professor and UNESCO chair has inspired me to push myself all the way. And made me realize that I capable of doing what I set my mind to and to realize my ability to be diverse and achieve my maximum potential. 10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? https://www.linkedin.com/in/tshireletso-kgabi-8ab311123/ Twitter Handle: @Tshire_MissTee   Tshireletso Kgabi interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at dhruti@geekyreality.com or find her on twitter @dhrutidd
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/)
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