An Autobiographical Moment
We’ve all been in a class when subject matter is being taught and some obscure question comes to mind. Many times, we will choose not to voice this question and forget about it. Other times, we may resort to sleight-of-hand googling it under our desk. Then, there is the very rare occasion when a question is so pressing that we must ask the professor.
The possibility of getting a semi-inspiring answer this way is always a shot in the dark. Often times the question is received incorrectly and the answer is just a repetition of what the professor has already said. But, sometimes, the professor takes your question and gives you the answer you had no clue you were looking for. This is the best type of moment. Knowledge explosion.
The beautiful moment described above is a delicacy in academia. Of all of the thousands of questions that run through our heads during a lecture, only about 1% are answered by the professor in an accurate and enlightening fashion (may or may not be accurate). This is a pretty good representation of how college students perceive the collegiate world. When I talk to my friends about their studies, they often express feeling like nomads searching for some glimpse of a happy future. Some aren’t doing too well with their classes and others are succeeding with insanely high GPAs. No matter what the GPA, however, there is a shared misconception about the availability of resources and aid when it comes to academic success. In fear of receiving answers that are simply irrelevant or they don’t want, students are too discouraged to just ask.
There are many opportunities in academia that are extremely cool and interesting such as getting involved in research, getting TA positions, leadership opportunities, and even internships. These opportunities are so abundant that administrators are searching hard for students to take them. However, we students fear asking about these opportunities– when sometimes that’s all we need to do in order to get them.
If you are interested in research, it would be very beneficial to get involved with it. Getting involved is an easy two step process:
- Research research opportunities at your institution online.
- Ask a researcher via email about potentially getting involved.
If the researcher responds and says they are not looking for anyone in the lab, that’s okay and you can repeat the steps. If the researcher asks to meet with you, you’re probably in, and it was that easy to begin an amazing educational experience.
So, from all of this, let’s conclude that we should all ask more questions. Who cares if the answer isn’t something you were hoping for, all that matters is the opportunity that you gave yourself with a simple question.
Thanks for reading this week! Comment your thoughts on this topic and suggest topics you'd like to see covered in the future! I can't wait to dive into them.
Complaining is a delicate art form. Let’s take into consideration Person A and Person B. On a hot day outside, Person A loudly voices their distaste about the heat—obnoxiously verbalizing what most people are trying to forget about. In a similar environment, Person B also voices their distaste for the heat but pairs the grievance with an invitation to go to their air-conditioned house. All too often, a complainer, such as Person A, is somebody who provides no solution to the problem they are complaining about. In some situations, however, the person to ameliorate the complaint by implementing change, Person B, is an advocate.
Dissatisfaction with the local weather is a frivolous example of a complaint. On the large scale, complaining can be a serious and impactful way to implement change. Environmental, animal, and human rights have all had a history of being improved by voiced concerns. These complaints, of course, were paired with suggested ways to ameliorate the issues.
The feminist movement began with people complaining about the big picture. Let’s let women vote, let’s allow women to work outside the home, let’s let women be legally independent. For the most part, many women have found this sense of equality today. Overall, women are taking 47% of the workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015) and laws have been created to stop sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace. In addition, we are seeing women taking more places in government offices than ever before (Catalyst, 2017). To many people, women have reached the finish line and there is no more work to be done.
However, this sentiment is simply untrue. While great strides have been made in governmental representation, only 21% of the Senate seats are filled by women (Catalyst, 2017). While great strides have been made in the STEM fields, only 26% of jobs in math and computer science are held by women (US Department of Labor, 2017). While great strides have been made in achieving gender equality, there are many steps we still need to take to fully reach it.
One way I’d like to help is by creating this blog as a platform to discuss the issues women face in the STEM field and to listen to your complaints as a woman in STEM. Hopefully we will be able to build off of these grievances to propose possible solutions. In addition, I will take you through my week as a woman in STEM studying Chemistry.
Overall, the goal of this blog is to be informative and motivating. I would like to show you what life is like as a woman in STEM and I would also like to discuss with you the issues that many women in STEM face. I also would like to encourage you, the reader, to ask questions, challenge my posts, or present new topics of discussion. I am not an expert on gender and women’s studies and I have much more to learn on the science front, so most of this blog will be focused on using published studies and interviews with professionals in the STEM fields.
Also, hi! I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Katie and I am a junior majoring in chemistry at the University of Kentucky. I am an #IAmAWomanInSTEM Scholar and I hope this blog is able to help you in some way.
Please comment below and tell me what topics you’d like to discuss in this blog!
Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in Government. New York: Catalyst, February 15, 2017.
In Spring 2017, Heather Campbell (Mechanical Engineering major) and Kayla Kuhfedt (Biology major) launched "STEM Groups." These groups of undergraduate women with similar interests (same majors at UK and/or career choices) gather together for networking and studying.
We encourage all first- and second-year #IAmAWomanInSTEM student ambassadors join a STEM Group - please sign up here (webform).
In Spring 2017, #IAmAWomanInSTEM student ambassador Hannah Thompson created “STEM Woman of the Week” or the WOW campaign, a photographic and interview series that features individuals to encourage and empower the studies of STEM students and raise awareness of their experiences.
Each week, a woman is chosen and she is photographed and interviewed. The interview allows her to share her experiences as a female working in a male-dominated industry and what it means to be a woman in STEM. This series is published on all of the #IAmAWomanInSTEM social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and our websites.
Students, faculty, or anyone in the community can nominate a female student, faculty member, or alumni that is passionate about the STEM field. Want to nominate a woman for our series? Fill out the webform by clicking here.