This post was written by Samantha Scibelli, a finalist in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition. Intel STS alumni have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science. Learn more about Samantha and the other 2013 Intel Science Talent Search finalists here.
It’s no secret that the number of young girls that are interested in math and science is extremely low. In today’s world STEM careers are being pushed more than ever, and numerous initiatives to get more women involved in these fields are being created.
But with all of these initiatives I think one point should really be stressed if we want to exceed in this goal. I believe that in order to get young girls interested in math and science, they need strong female role models in their lives. Someone they can look up to and say, “I want to be just like her when I grow up.” Female teachers, nurses, doctors, mothers etc. should all be willing to take on the responsibility of becoming a role model to younger girls.
It’s not enough to tell a young girl that she can do anything she puts her mind to; she needs an extra push. A young girl needs to be able to see a woman who has made her dream a reality, so she can see herself doing the same. I have been fortunate enough to have had many great female role models in my life. My mother, my research teacher and my mentor have all taught me that I can be a successful woman in science. In fact, because of the influence of my mentor, I have decided to pursue a PhD in physics. I truly believe that the main reason for all of the amazing success I have with my research is due to the strong female figures in my life. Therefore, I wish the same type of influence for any girl who has even the slightest interest in math and science.
Too many times I have come across girls who tell me that they feel like they could never become a doctor or engineer because it’s too hard. That drives me crazy! I think that there is this preconceived idea that math and science are the hard subjects saved for those super smart kids. That is just not the case! Anyone can get involved in math and science and it’s not only important in today’s world – it’s fun! I think girls who have a support system of women will understand that it’s ok to try something outside the box and will be willing to take challenges in their education. I hope that someday I can become that role model for younger girls and get them interested in the fields of science and math that I adore so much.