To every girl and woman out there leaving their mark in science (and any other STEM subjects) we dedicate Civil Engineer Jasmin Duru’s kind words to her younger self.
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!
A letter to my younger self, offering insights that were gifted to me by time. I hope that the women and girls who are reaching out for guidance today feel inspired by my words.
Dear Jasmin (aged 15),
Things may feel uncertain, but don’t worry, you’ll work it out. The past was key in teaching us how to navigate the present and if I could speak to you today, I would say…
1. Be confident in what you do
Easier said than done? Definitely. So maybe for this first step try to find confidence in who you are.
Carve time out of your day to get to know you. Ask yourself: what am I good at? What comes easily to me? What did I enjoy studying? And, what motivates me? Pay attention to when you are at your best, it will help you find fulfilling work you can be confident you’ll do well at.
You give yourself way too much of a hard time. Reflect on how far you’ve come - you’re doing fine. Actually, you’re doing better than fine. It’s natural to feel unsure about the future, but don’t forget, whatever you do you’ll push things forwards with energy and enthusiasm.
2. Explore different ways to start your career
There is more than one way to crack an egg - you don’t have to be an engineer to work in STEM. People are multifaceted, so why put yourself in a box? Focus on looking for opportunities and experiences; try things you don’t like to find what you do like.
Gain transferable skills that give you options. Communication, communication, communication – you’ll hear this a lot as you progress through your career. I’d argue it’s one of the most important skills, so best to be intentional with it. Talk to people: join societies, network, and give presentations. It isn't always going to be easy, you'll be pushed out of your comfort zone, but that's the best way to develop and grow.
3. Seek advice
Civil engineers, data scientists, actuaries and doctors all fall under the STEM umbrella. On this path there are hundreds of careers to choose from, but with so much choice how do you decide what’s right for you? Ask!
You don't have to figure out everything on your own. Unless you know someone who works in these fields, it can be difficult to gauge what’s involved. So, ask the people that do know. Reach out to teachers and lecturers, or even employers directly. This will provide you with a better understanding and could lead to apprenticeships or sponsorships. You never know until you try.
4. Ignore stereotypes
From looking around the studio at Price & Myers, it’s clear that men definitely out-number women. But don’t let this stop you from following your passion. There are plenty of smart, creative, funny and brilliant women here too, shining twice as bright as they think they do.
In fact, women now account for more than 24% of the STEM workforce, with the sector aiming to increase numbers to 30% by 2030. Surely together we can do better than this. So, apply for that course! Apply for that job! And apply yourself to help tackle the unique challenges we face in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
There’s room, so take it. It’s yours.
5. Encourage and champion other women
Reach out to women within your industry and find your community. By building these invaluable relationships with friends and mentors you’ll break down barriers as a team. Encouraging each other to challenge opinions, ask questions and take up space.
There is power in the spoken word. Through sharing your personal experiences of navigating the industry, you may inspire other women to overcome their fears and celebrate their successes. So speak up! Role models come from unexpected places, and you never know who might need to hear your voice.