When I was a child I asked an unparallel amount of questions. I was never satisfied with a just because. I would search in books, ask relatives, google, I think I even remember going up to strangers and asking them questions. I have this need for information and explanation, which is why I choose to be a scientist. The more I knew the stronger I felt about myself.
As a woman, I don’t think I will stop being underestimated. However, I will never stop proving people wrong. I get this strength from watching the women who inspire me every day.
When I was 4-5 my great-grandmother would sit me on her armchair and taught me to read. She wanted me to be an educated woman just as my mother, and grandmother were. She taught me that hard work will help you gain new skills and give you tools to solve problems.
When I was 8 my mom was my soccer coach, she taught me to be a keeper. The final line of defense. She gave me one objective, keep the ball from going over the white line in front of the goal. She taught me that you can break down any job to one task and complete it.
When I was 15 I ended up in the hospital and complications led me into a panic attack. My step mom taught me that I have the ability to control how I react to my surroundings.
That fall of my freshman year of college, I got a job as a lighting technician for a local music hall, I had to prove myself each day. Big men would think I was too fragile to move the big speakers or drum cases, by the end of the night they would apologize for underestimating me. This happened almost every night. My boss who had been in the business almost 30 years, he told me on his last day that he often forgot I was so young because of how skilled I was and how professionally I held myself.
When I was 19 I worked in an office filled with women, and my office manager taught me I was capable of working with numbers and with people. She would give me the directions once and tell me to ask questions if needed. This was one of the first times that instead of asking for a step by step procedure I would adjust as needed. Over 18 months I was able to get both offices of the company organized and up to date, some of the oldest material was backdated ten years.
I spent my first few years in college studying criminal justice. In many cases, I was the only one in my class who would take a minute and ask my professor for more information. He would often play this little game where he would give three facts and from that, you have to determine if you should detain someone. Many of my classmates would be quick to say of course —- is guilty, cuff um! I would never answer without more information. Many of my classmates though that my further investigation was a waste of resources. When I was ready to leave one school and head to the next, my professor, the good ol’ boy retired chief of police, told me I was one of his favorites students and how I would make one damn good investigator one day.
This past spring I had a professor who gave me female contacts within my field and encouraged my curiosity as a scientist. She shared my enthusiasm for finding answers and making possible scientific improvements. She taught me that science is not about the bottom line it’s about understanding, improvement, and advancement.
I have learned through these women, and I have taught men not to underestimate me for being a woman. Never let being a woman stop you from anything.