By Cali Odeen

Growing up I wanted to be a teacher. I was a girl who liked working with and lecturing ┬ákids, always taking the educator role in make pretend games (I was a bit overbearing at that age). Wanting to be a teacher as a young woman in a public school is anything but an uncommon ambition. Think about it, the majority of our role models are women educators; 80% of elementary and middle school teachers are women. However, I also liked math. The satisfaction I felt when I was able to go learn sixth grade math in a different classroom, while my fellow fourth graders were learning fourth grade math, is something I still look back on with pride. Thus, an internal conflict began: teaching was something I could say to a grown up and know that their response would include praise. Science or math, however, was a bit less predictable. What was I to do as a scientist? We hadn’t read any books involving woman engineers or mathematicians, so how was I supposed to know that they existed? It was a box that I was put in as a middle schooler, making it very difficult for me to see over the edges at my other career possibilities.

Image: Intern Cali helping a student with his math homework.

But, like the engineer I am, I fashioned myself a ladder, and allowed myself to take the jump to a career in STEM. My digital story is about my experience as a woman in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, a field that is governed by men. I use my story to advocate for women in the STEM field, letting young female students know that we can be a force to be reckoned with in a male dominated field. I hope that my story also advocates for the students to pursue what they want to pursue, no matter the stigma surrounding it.