This past week, a colleague of mine at work shared this article with me about gender equality in films. One thing that the article mentioned that stood out to me is that, "only 15% of K-12 students remember seeing women performing computer science tasks "most of the time" in film or TV...in real life women make up only 17% of computer science majors." The lack of representation in our various entertainment sources directly correlates with the amount of people choosing to pursue a degree in entertainment sources. Because of this fact alone, diversity and inclusion is important.
I can't really say which one should come first, diversity in film or diversity in academics, but for me, the one thing we can all have the power to control is our education. Diversity doesn't just start and end with being a person or color in the room. You need to provide your presence and thoughts to contribute to the conversations and discussions that are going on around you. As a Nigerian-American woman in corporate America, I see the world differently than a lot of my counterparts do and that has the ability to be powerful. If I were just going to sit in meetings and discussions and not say anything, I would be doing myself and the team a disservice. When I add something to the discussion it let's everyone in the room know that not only am I there I am also involved and ready for action. You never know how your thoughts and ideas could be implemented and what opportunities could arise as a result.
Now all of this isn't easy. People will have developed their own preconceived notions about you just by how you look. On a cultural note, you may operate differently than the people around you. All of these may cause you to be overlooked, discouraged, and left out; but do NOT let it deter you. As I said in my confidence blog post last week, you are deserving and have every right to be where you are.
One of my biggest motivations throughout college and even now post-grad is knowing that I am defying all odds and statistics while debunking stereotypes so that people after me will not have the same feelings and hesitations that I had while going through school. Just as I am giving back through MacScientist and other volunteering groups, you too will also need to give back when it becomes your turn. It's time to change the face of what a typical engineer looks like.
That's all for now,