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28 Tips for Young Women in STEM from Everyday Hidden Figures

28 Tips for Young Women in STEM from Everyday Hidden Figures

To celebrate the nationwide opening of “Hidden Figures”, we asked women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to share tips on how young girls can pursue a career in these fields. The response was overwhelming. Check out a few of our favorites below.

  1. First tip I would give is to not be intimidated by math while you're in elementary, middle, and high school. If you study hard and get the basics down, especially in high school (particularly calculus), you'll be ready to take on higher level math courses in college that will prepare you for careers in STEM fields. - Madelyn G. Windley, the first Black woman to receive a master of arts degree in mathematics from George Washington University

  2. Look at YouTube videos on areas that are of interest and begin learning concepts. Begin to actively read scientific literature that is age appropriate- readability so you become familiar with the language. - Kimberly N. Whitley @kkthedoctor, working on doctoral dissertation on food insecurity, environmental injustice and health disparities  

  3. Research organizations, such as: The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and also Society of Women Engineers (SWE) as they have mentor programs.- Sylvie Montoute, an Engineer for a Construction Management Firm

  4. Don't be afraid of being overwhelmed. STEM can be such a vast field but explore all that you can to find what you love. - Dominique West, a Cyber Security Engineer with a BA in Computer Information Systems and two IT certifications

  5. Never let someone tell you where you'll end up. You may not always succeed in your goals, but naysayers will never have the right or power to predict your future for you.- Alexis Hancock, Senior Interactive Developer

  6. Most schools nowadays provide classes starting with Kindergarten throughout high school. Make your STEM interest known to your guidance counselor. If you are in college, start a club and obtain sponsors.- Mrs. Santa-Marie and Diamond Adams @sweetdeals_rus, first mother and daughter African Americans to graduate UMBC Cyber Security Program with a Masters

  7. Enroll in special programs outside of their regular classes. Maybe join an amateur astronomy club or program, join a coding class for example. - Dona Chathuni Kuruppu, BS in space physics, MS in engineering physics and currently a PhD candidate in engineering physics

  8. Make it fun! STEM was always fun for me. For girls in middle and high school, get involved in a science club or on a robotics team. These experiences develop STEM skills like team building and problem solving while having fun and possibly earning scholarship money. - April Guest @always_aguest, MS in Engineering Management

  9. I'd recommend doing summer internships for STEM. They are geared towards minority students pursuing a career in research. The summer internships that they can apply for are REUs and SURF programs. Here's one for high school students: And here is a list of summer internships to apply to (most come with free travel, housing, and stipend: - Brittany Thompson, Production Scientist

  10. Develop a “Growth Mindset” vs a “Fixed Mindset”! Know that you can learn anything, be anything. Nothing is out of your reach. - Camille Fisher @soulqwen, Middle and High School Math Teacher  

  11. Try to be a problem solver and think of ways to improve situations and methods. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Be proactive and be confident! - Gillian Agyemang @fellaslovecoolg, Clinical Laboratory Scientist in a Blood Bank

  12. Girls should mention their interest to their school counselors and science teachers. They are a great resource and may know of programs they can get involved in. Many communities also have a Science or Technology Center that may offer camps and special events throughout the year. -Hesha Nesbitt Gamble, County Engineer for the most populated county in South Carolina

  13. Do not be afraid to let your dreams & aspirations evolve with you. When I first fell in love with chemistry, as a sophomore in high school, I just knew that I wanted to be an MD…life has taken me in so many different directions that don't even involve becoming an MD but life has been much more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. -Sarah Green Ellis, worked as a research specialist studying the estrogenic effects of botanicals before starting Naturopathic medical school last year

  14. Find a mentor or mentoring program that caters to the field of STEM.  A lot of programs now offer exposure to several STEM related careers for young girls. – Marlayna Fitts @m_ashton13, BS in Biology, MS in Clinical research management

  15. Be confident in your abilities and gifts. Black women are surely underrepresented in the STEM fields but believe in yourself and never be afraid of hard work. – Johnetra Trotter @jbaileybeauty, Math instructor and entrepreneur

  16. Never give up, study hard, stay focused. Surround yourself with people who correct, motivate, encourage and support you. And remember that the first no is just that. Keep pushing until you get a yes! - Crystal Bowe, the first MD/MPH graduate from ECU and currently practices outpatient family medicine in NC

  17. The best advice I could provide to young girls and women pursuing STEM careers is to NEVER listen to ANYONE telling you that you are incapable or incompetent. - Taylor Hawkins @tayloredchanel, a Field Engineer with Skanska USA

  18. For college students I would highly recommend doing a summer internship. The internships are paid and you are able to work with some of the top researchers in the world. This allows college students to gain mentors and insight into different careers. – Krystal Taylor @lovelykt26, Anatomy, Physiology and Microbiology Instructor 

  19. Internships and summer programs are another great way to see what's available in STEM. Many government funded agencies, such as NASA and the National Weather Service, as well as major companies, offer summer internships and research programs for high school and college students. – Marlana Sharpe, currently owns a math tutoring business and teaches prep classes for a SAT, ACT, and GED testing

  20. Volunteering in fields they you are interested in, is a great way to a successful career. I volunteered with several different programs before I settled on Entomology. - Sonja Brannon Thomas, PhD in Entomology and trains people how to safely use pesticides

  21. One way for young girls to get involved in STEM is getting involved with FIRST Robotics team in their area. I mentored a team primarily to get young black girls involved. -Erin Shirley Orey @erinsorey, Project Manager in Healthcare IT

  22. Never be afraid to reach out to professionals in your field of interest and inquire about internships, volunteer work or job shadowing so that you can begin to have exposure in your field. - Ashley Queen @livinglikequeen, Research microbiologist

  23. Learn to utilize your resources. A simple google search can open many doors of knowledge as well as opportunities for hand on learning like activities. - Simone Smarr @monielove104, Human-Centered Computing PhD Student  

  24. Be your courageous self! Sometimes seeing others who look like you can be few and far between, but don't let it hold you back. - Lauren D. Thomas, leader of a new internal education program at Amazon and the first Black woman to graduate from her PhD program

  25. Never feel shy about asking questions and getting clarification. Be adamant about receiving help and never let the pressure of representing your demographic make you afraid about possibly not knowing something…- Danielle Regis @geeky.and. glam, works as an embedded systems software developer

  26. Don’t put the idea of STEM in a box, and don’t let it box you in. STEM can be an art, if you make it one. Pursuing a STEM degree is all about building, creating and discovering. –Maya Carrasquillo @mayaecarrasquillo, Full time PhD student in Environmental Engineering

  27. Get involved early in school STEM activities and clubs. summer STEM camps, or community groups. Seek paid and unpaid internships in high school and college. –Joneyse P. Gatling @joneyseevette, works at the National Business Group on Health

  28. There are a number of competitions and conferences that you can participate in such as Lego Leagues, Junior Solar Sprint, eCYBERMISSION, and Future Engineers. Get out there and get some hands on learning about what you think you might want to do, hone your skills, and narrow your focus. - Laura Powell @Icpearla, BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Delaware, currently works for the Department of Defense 

Have we missed any? IF so, add your tips and resources below!