From Anonymous:

I haven’t had the chance to have very much experience in stem yet; I’m only a freshman in college and I plan on earning a degree in some form of engineering. But during my senior year of high school I experienced the type of discrimination that I’m afraid I’ll need to overcome for my foreseeable academic and professional career. I was having a conversation with some guys who were acquaintances of mine during high school and mentioned that I wanted to pursue engineering. One of them noted that, “That’s odd because there are very few hispanic women in engineering.” I was stunned silent, and before I could respond he laughed and said, “Well, you’re a seventeen year old hispanic girl and you’re not pregnant, so I guess you’re ahead of the power curve.” The worst part about this whole exchange was that everyone around me just laughed it off. I’m worried I’m going to face this kind of casual sexism and racism in my chosen field of study.


  1. Wow! Does your U. have a Society of Women Engineers and/or a Society of Hispanic Engineers? Check to see – the purpose of groups like that is to provide a support network. If there isn’t one, start one! You can look online for the national groups and contact them to find out how to start a student branch. Meeting other people that are like you will help you figure out how to deal with people and situations like the one you described. You might not be able to change the views of people that make remarks like that, but you could have a profound effect on the bystanders that laughed. Often in those situations, (many of) the bystanders laugh because they are embarrassed, uncomfortable, and don’t know what to do. If you can get together with other women and Hispanic engineering students, you can figure out strategies on how to react that will empower you and the bystanders so that the offender is the one who feels uncomfortable and embarrassed. Don’t go it alone – make some friends that you can talk to about this subject – so that it doesn’t shut you down. Good luck!!!!! You can do it!!!!!


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