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A couple of weeks ago I did a handful of presentations for my friends’ S.T.E.M class. If you don’t know what S.T.E.M, that’s ok because I also wasn’t aware that a program like this existed until my friend asked me to present. The program “is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach” (http://www.livescience.com/43296-what-is-stem-education.html)
It’s a fantastic program, once my friend explained what it was. My audience was multiple classes of female high school students, yikes. I remember being in high school and having guest speakers and just being bored out of my mind. So I decided to make my presentation blunt. I presented on what I currently do for work, what my likes and dislikes were and my daily tasks as a Lead Scientist Quality Control Microbiologist for a Pharmaceutical Company. However, I told them “Most of what I do at work is yell”. And that’s true. I am fairly new to the science industry and I’m not that old (being level 27 isn’t that old). But I work with men, military men at that, who are much more experience at manufacturing than I am. And I have been told that they are not going to ask for my advice on manufacturing from a Micro standpoint because I am young and inexperienced.
I told the girls this and they looked surprised; I did say I was going to be blunt. They looked even more surprised when I told them that I’ve also faced misogyny. Yes, it still does exist in 2017. Granted, I do currently only have 2 years of experience in the field and although I may not know everything about manufacturing, I know my area; Microbiology. So I yell. I make my voice heard. I’d rather keep people safe from potential contamination then potentially having my feelings hurt. I’d rather them see me as an annoyance and perform work correctly than to have to worry if our product is safe. However, work isn’t even the first time I’ve faced misogyny.
 I originally went to college for Art (I know, complete 180 from what people think of science based people); I wanted to become a Medical Illustrator, so not a complete 180. I remember asking my advisor as a freshman “How do I get a dual degree in Art and Biology?” and I still remember his answer to this day: “Why would you want to do that, you won’t be able to do that”. I remember being stunned. I was always raised, from my family to my schooling that “you can be whoever you want”. And I didn’t understand why he would say that, so I thought that “Ok, well then I have to choose one degree over the other”. And since I wasn’t particularly interested in being a starving artist I switched to Biology and eventually Pharmacy. Decided that Pharmacy wasn’t for me but still enjoyed the science in pharmacy, so I started working in Microbiology. This ended up being a blessing in disguise since I really enjoy working in the science field but, as I told the girls, you will face adversity. Even right from the start of your career; your schooling. And as I’ve told them, I have not completely given up on my skills as an artist. Not only do I still keep art as a hobby, it also helps me at work with gram staining, creating presentations, etc.
Don’t get me wrong I love my job, and I’ve enjoyed my schooling. Especially now that the men I work with hear my voice and listen; things are a lot smoother now. However, the girls were just stunned. I told them, your age and you biology will have you at odds, especially working in a male dominant industry. Make your voice heard, save lives and don’t be afraid.

          

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