As a senior biology major on the pre-med track at Temple University, I have seen a push for women to be in the science, technology, engineering and math fields during my four years of college.
In high school, my robotics team focused on ensuring there was an equal number of men and women in positions of power. Even my coach was a woman.
Although the pendulum has swung, and the majority of biology majors across the country are now female, we are still oftentimes not truly respected. I remember hearing that “diversity is nothing without inclusivity” at my freshman orientation, and these words have left an impact on me for three years.
While there is better female representation in science, technology, mathematics and engineering than ever before, I still feel like an outcast sometimes.
During my freshman year, I was a psychology major. My professors were mostly women, and they made it a point to be warm and welcoming.
But when I switched my major to biology sophomore year, I had to take calculus and chemistry with professors who were mostly men. I could tell my classes in the College of Science and Technology were different from my classes in the College of Liberal Arts from the first day.
It’s difficult to have a personal relationship with students when there are 300 people in a lecture hall, but my professors did not seem to care about our academic success. Some would even make disparaging remarks, saying only a few of us will still be here in four years.
I am exhausted, but I am determined to be one of them.
These professors promoted a toxic, cutthroat environment. There were no longer collaborative projects like in CLA, and the only group work was in labs. People were primarily focused on getting accepted into health care professional schools.
I could have sliced the competitive tension in the air with a butter knife.
I realized how alienating it felt to be the only woman in the room when I went to office hours. I felt like I did not belong.
Now whenever I feel out of place, I remind myself I’m not alone. Other women may feel the same intimidation emanating from their male colleagues. But if we all gave up, then no progress would ever be made.
I am empowered to be a female biology major in CST. I am qualified to be here, and my gender does not make me any less so. I want to empower other women by helping my friends who are also on a pre-med track achieve their goals too.
When we rise together, we’ll be unstoppable.
It’s 2020, and women should be respected and held to the same standards as men in all aspects of life. I know I can accomplish my research and post-graduation goals in biotechnology without anyone’s approval because I have already come this far.