Being a black woman in engineering can be a little daunting at times. Out of the hundreds of thousands of people that graduate with engineering degrees in the United States, less than 1% of them are African American women. The lack of representation in STEM-related fields has pushed me twice as hard to overcome the many battles I have to face daily.
I want minority kids to look up to me and realize that anything is possible, and neither their race or their gender should stand in their way of success.
Growing up, both of my parents consistently exposed me to STEM and always expressed how the possibilities were limitless with an engineering degree. Luckily both of my parents were engineers so they had access to many great resources for me to truly fall in love with engineering, but I wish every minority child had the same opportunity. I strive to be successful in engineering so I can mentor and guide young minority students to pursue engineering. When I sit in my classes and study the material, I am not doing it for myself. I am working hard for those who will come after me. I want minority students to look at me and state “If she can do it, I can do it too.”
Representation matters in the workforce and the lack of black women representing STEM fields makes me extremely wary. When anyone looks at the top executives of a company, they are usually white men. Even though the United States is considered a melting pot, only a select few represent major corporations. Everyone’s voice is important and valuable, so as a nation we should strive to have more representation in STEM fields. There are many innovations waiting to be celebrated, and the only way that can occur is if we give everyone an equal opportunity to express their ideas.
I am extremely grateful that the people in my life believed in my capabilities for success and were there for me every step of the way. Being one of the only black women in my classes has really pushed me to excel because I want to encourage younger minority students to pursue engineering without fear of failure. Engineering is the future, and I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to excel in their career without race and gender being an issue.
The College of Engineering believes solving engineering challenges are easier when everyone has a seat at the table. To learn more about how we are working to give every student access to an inclusive engineering environment, visit our access and inclusion program.