I am a woman
in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). More specifically, I have both a bachelors and a masters in physics.
Physics is roughly only 20% women nationally, so I'm used to being the only female in a room. Many of the men studying physics today don't see a problem with me being female; however, there is a portion of them that I have to constantly fight — mostly for them to believe that, yes, I do know what I'm talking about.
In order to get my masters degree, I either needed to a) take a three-hour oral exam or b) complete a research project and defend a thesis. I chose option b, to do a research project and defend a thesis.
The guys would all talk about their own research like it was a foreign language to me. In my head, I was like yes, I understand most of what you’re saying; but no, I do not want to do a 20 million dimensional integral. Thanks.
I prefer experimental physics to theoretical, thank you. And so on.
Whenever I would talk about my research to a room of men, at least one of them would try to explain what my research was about. I would politely reply "yes, that's exactly how it works!" or "close, it’s actually more like this." Almost without fail, the one explaining it to me would counter.
"Oh no, I was telling you how it worked.” Bitch, I know how my own goddamn research works. Thanks.
I'm now taking that research and making it into a hardware startup technology company. I know that sounds so blatantly hipster, so you don’t have to tell me.
Now, men ask me how it works and what the intended purpose is; it’s funny how a title change from ‘female grad student’ to ‘female tech company founder’ changes someone’s perspective of you.
I am exactly as competent as I was then. I am exactly as intelligent as I was then. I am exactly as ambitious as I was then. The only thing that's changed is my public image.
Stay strong ladies. Who run the world?