Before working in IT, I served briefly as an elementary school teacher. I was also a substitute teacher from Pre-K all the way up to 12th grade, in addition to coaching middle school girls and high school girls field hockey. All of these various experiences gave me windows into the work of education and mentorship at numerous points through young people’s lives. Complementing this with my own experience as an Asian American woman in the tech industry, I’ve come to realize how critical it is for educators, parents, and really any adult who ever interacts with a child to think about what we do, what we say, what we convey about value.
Even now, when I think “boy”, I think “strong”, and when I think “girl”, I think “pretty”. The only way to counter our own biases and work towards mitigating bias in our communications is to be more self-aware. A boy might hear “Great job spelling all of the words correctly”, while a girl might here “Your handwriting is so neat.” We need to remind ourselves what we want our girls to really think about themselves – how they define self-worth and what those values should be to promote a healthier career & life.
I am the only female on my team, but my gender and/or my physical appearance in no way affect the quality of my work. My gender is important, but it is not at all a defining factor when it comes to what people can do – what we can learn, what skills we can develop, and how we can excel in school. I want to be valued for my skills, my knowledge, my capacity to persevere and to solve problems, my ability to help my clients achieve their goals. I want young people to demand to be valued for their minds, not their bodies.
Towards the end of elementary school, children are starting to thinking about what makes a boy a boy and what makes a girl a girl. The physiological differences aren’t as important here as the behavioral components – who to sit with at lunch, who to play with on the playground, who to talk to because they’re One Of My Kind as opposed to the Other. We need to create environments where boys and girls are equally welcomed as opposed to separated out by gender lines. We need boys and girls to see one another as One of My Kind – not because of shared hobbies or similar appearance, but out of recognition that “you can do this too”.
While it can help, boys and girls don’t need to share hobbies to get along. Instead, we can value all people across genders for the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of excellence. We can ask questions about the world around us and be curious together. We can design things, build things, consider problems, and device solutions. The world needs more critical thinkers, persevering researchers, and problem-solvers. We can think about bringing more girls into STEM because we need more minds in STEM.
Gulnaar K. is a prior elementary-level educator who now works in technology.
Preparing for Another Great Year
After an amazing summer in Cincinnati, I’m excited to see what our 2017 year will look like. With our expansion into Buffalo and our brand new Hackathon events, it’s looking to be even better than before. Looking back on our year we have a lot to celebrate, a great camp that inspired young girls in Cincinnati and a new look at young women in STEM. As a board, we are also constantly looking to expand our message and reach even more young women aspiring to go into the STEM fields. As I’ve come to learn, this is no easy feat and it requires a great deal of dedication and confidence in the message one is sharing. I believe in this cause as a woman in STEM and hope to bring continue spreading the message as I know there are thousands of women, young and old, who love the STEM fields as much as I do and want all young girls to have this opportunity. I hope everyone reading our posts and everyone who supports our message will join us in celebrating a successful year but also in continuing our efforts as we strive to bring our camps to every girl who wishes to pursue her interest in STEM.
A big thank you to all of our supporters. With your help Blossom was able to raise $6500 last month! Now we are able to expand our program in Cincinnati, and help even more girls grow into STEM!
We’re happy to announce that we are able to increase the number of spots available for certain courses this summer. Wow!
We are happy to announce a new event at the CLifton Recreation Center May 13th. In partnership with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Women in Technology, Blossom is brining LEGO robotics to the Clifton neighborhood.
This exciting opportunity is provided free of charge to 8-12 year old girls registered at the Clifton Recreation Center.
Hope to see you there!
As a research assistant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I’ve learned a great deal about the
world of science. Science is a challenging and rewarding field that requires diligence, intelligence, drive,
and passion. I’ve seen science fail and I’ve seen science succeed. In research, I’ve had to experiment
and attempt new techniques. Sometimes I won’t be successful for many attempts and I can’t say that
it’s not discouraging at times but when I get something new to work it feels amazing. It’s far from
coincidence that I wound up in a scientific role; I was drawn to science as I was growing up and was
encouraged to pursue this passion.
As a woman in science, I can honestly say getting to this point was challenging. Growing up I ran
into several people who felt a career in science, medicine, or similar fields wasn’t fit for a woman who
would need to take care of kids one day or even people who just plainly told me I would never make it in
science. It wasn’t until now that I realize how wrong they all were. As a young girl, you get consumed in
what everyone thinks about you that you forget to pursue your own dreams because someone tells you
that you can’t. Instead of telling young girls what they shouldn’t do we should encourage them to
follow their passions and interests. If I had listened to these strangers I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Instead, I was encouraged by my family to keep my interest in science and pursue it when I continued to
If I hadn’t been encouraged by the people I was close to growing up, I’m not sure if I would have
gotten my Bachelor’s with a major in Zoology and a minor in Chemistry. Now, seeing how much
encouragement from others can do for self-esteem, I see how critical it is to encourage young girls to
follow their interests in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as these jobs are
growing and women are just as capable to hold these roles. We don’t want these young girls to give up
on hopes of these fields before they’ve had the chance to fully experience what they can do.
I decided to become involved in Blossom for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is
that I want to see young girls have an opportunity to truly grow their interest in STEM in an environment
that is encouraging and engaging. I want to see a future where every girl has the opportunity to pursue
their passion. I know what this means to me, now I want to see what it can mean to the young girls