In recent years, we've seen a rise in women in the workforce and, more specifically, in industries that have, until the last decade, been predominantly saturated by men. It's important that women continue to break out into the workforce and male-dominated fields to keep the momentum going and ensure workplace equality, including decreasing the pay gap and workplace harassment. Keeping women at the forefront of the workforce not only ensures women continue to have a voice on important issues, but that they're well represented among their peers. For women who are looking to be part of the women's workforce movement, women thinking of starting a career may want to consider breaking into the STEM field. Here are some reasons why women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is vital for future success.
Women as Family Providers
For hundreds of years, men have been seen as the sole providers for their family. This type of thinking has kept women in the background with the expectation that they should serve as the family caretakers, rearing children and tending to the household. However, as we see a rise in single-parent households, it has become necessary for women to break out of these traditional roles and enter the workforce to provide for their children. When women secure careers in the STEM field, they'll be better equipped to provide for their family, as STEM fields have a tendency to pay better than jobs that don't require a specialized skill. In fact, STEM fields are less likely to have the wage disparity that is often common for women in the workforce, which means they'll be able to provide a comfortable living for their family.
Women Bring Diversity
Women in STEM, particularly minority women, offer diversity to the workforce which can also bring a refreshing new perspective to the table. Having a varied perspective on issues, particularly ones that pertain to women such as women's health, can ensure that the right solutions are being offered on a wider scale, which can be beneficial for the population as a whole. In addition, having a diverse workforce ensures that women have a better chance of advancement to more senior-level or board room positions, which typically have been dominated by males throughout the years.
Women offer a brighter future for our children
Female children often look to their older counterparts as role models, and when older women are seen in professional roles it may give them hope that they too can be a successful woman when they grow older. It's important that future generations understand that there are no limits to what they can accomplish and that they aren't limited to a particular industry based on their gender. Concurrently, it's also vital that young males see women in positions equal to men so that they grow up viewing women as peers no matter what industry the work in. Because such a large number of children are raised by single mothers, having a strong woman role model who's seen as someone who can provide for their family breaks down gender inequality barriers and keeps women's rights in stride with men's.
How to Secure a Career in STEM
As with finding most professional careers, securing a career in the STEM field typically begins with receiving a college education. Education should be valued regardless of which career direction you choose, but if you're particularly interested in working in one of the fields defined by STEM, you'll want to start by looking at the different programs available at the university of your choice. Your first step will likely be the discovery phase, where you talk with someone or take an aptitude test to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. From there, you should be able to narrow down your choices to a particular field of interested before moving on to the exploration phase, where you'll dig deeper into a few different options to determine the best fit. From there, you'll apply for different programs best suited to your abilities and interests and wait to be admitted to a program.
These are just a few of the benefits of working in the field of science, technology, engineering, or math. STEM fields are a lucrative way for women to provide for their families while advancing their career.
It Doesn't End with Education
It's important to note that securing a career in a STEM field doesn't begin and end with an education. You can also gain valuable knowledge and experience by completing internships in your field. These will teach you more about your field while getting your foot in the door with a potential employer should a position open up after you graduate college.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.