We talked to key women in STEM about finding your place in your discipline

We talked to key women in STEM about finding your place in your discipline

Also, a few helpful pointers on how to fight impostor syndrome, and win.

Art by Neal P. Corpus


In the flurry of women’s month posts on Instagram, one particular post hits home: Lenny Kravitz holding up a sign that says “It’s time to turn it over to women! Men have had their chance to run the world and look where we are…” If you’ve been paying attention in the past few years (or should I say decades, ’cause it feels like it), you’ll know that the global news have been dominated by questionable decisions made by powerful male figures. It may take years (or again, decades) to see a woman making big calls, but for now, we can slowly inch our way towards proper equality in smaller industries.

According to a report by the Philippine STAR in 2018, Filipinas get almost the same opportunities as men in the local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Sure, there are still stories of harassment in surgery rooms and unfair treatment in boardrooms, but that research data gives us bit of hope. Maybe just a few more years, we can finally achieve balance in the workforce. But before that happens, we need more women among the higher-ups. So what’s stopping women from stepping up and claiming a spot?

This bit of data from a research by Refinery29 and Berlin Cameron might hold the answer: Women are “48 percent more likely to stay up at night worrying about their success.” While women are out there sealing million-peso deals and innovating new technology, all while juggling many other things, there’s still the nagging feeling that says we’re not doing enough or that we don’t deserve the recognition we’re getting. That monster is called the Impostor Syndrome. By definition, the Impostor Syndrome is the “psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” While it’s not an experience specific to women, it’s a condition that a lot of minorities quietly go through after years of being set aside and put down, and we’re not strangers to that.

It usually stems from comparison with other big figures in the industry, and coincidentally a lot of them are men. “There is no one mold for a scientist,” Carmel Valencia, corporate communications manager of L’Oreal Philippines says. “Just as there are many fields of science, there are just as many types of scientists and their diversity is powerful.” STEM benefits from different perspectives, tackling one problem from different points of view. And the opinion of women, aka half the world’s population, is equally valuable.

While Carmel isn’t part of the STEM field, she recognizes her responsibility in empowering girls who will someday take important positions in the industry. “It takes a village to raise a child, and it certainly takes a village to raise a scientist for a young girl to follow a career in STEM,” says Carmel.

This is why L’Oreal collaborated with She Talks Asia for a tribe meet-up last month. A few other women spoke at the event including Dr. Geraldine Zamora, The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Awardee for Medicine and founder of the Lupus Bridging Fund; Dr. Maricor Soriano, a multi-awarded physicist from the National Institute of Physics in UP; and Alex Suarez, country lead of Bumble Philippines. Not only do these meet-ups introduce new female role models to younger scientists, but it’s also a good networking opportunity to create your own tribe. If there’s anything that I learned after working with women for so many years, it’s the fact that we thrive in groups. We are reminded of each other’s greatness after every victory or even after every cute selfie. Sometimes, we all just need a reminder that it’s worth chasing after our dreams. It doesn’t only benefit us, but it also inspires other people who want to chase after theirs.

“Women hold a very important place in the society,” says Dr. Geraldine. We need to start acting like our work matters, because it does.

#career #gender #self

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