Someone the other day asked me why I was so vocal. On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, in life. They didn't say it in a snarky or mean way- they genuinely wanted to know. Why did I put myself in a position where people could easily pick me apart and poke at my insecurities (and they have done both)? The answer I gave them led to a long conversation that in no way, shape, or form could I write down as eloquently as we both put our stances that day. To be honest, I've been struggling to find a way to write even the introduction of this blog post.
But it stuck with me: why do you do what you do? It's a question I'm sure we've all received from others and even ourselves. It's the question we mutter under our breath or scream at the top of our lungs in defeat and frustration. It's the question we answer at every university and job interview. And it's the question I want you to answer right here, right now. It doesn't have to be in the comments section, it can be whispered softly or thought out loud. I'm asking you : why do you do what you do?
This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I'm answering the question - perhaps my reasons echo with yours.
I do marine biology because... I am fascinated with the ocean and whats beneath the waves. The ocean is essentially our lifeblood, covering the majority of this planet's surface and yet to date, we have explored less than five percent of the ocean. And while the entire ocean floor has been mapped to a maximum resolution of around 5km (woo hoo!), it is actually still less detailed than maps of some of our planets (like Mars and Venus) and our own moon! I love a good mystery and what better mystery is there than one we depend so wholly on?!
I do science communication because... I love talking about science to people! This job allows me to use my scientific and communication skills at the same time, two skills I really enjoy having and think I'm rather good at. And while it's true that the role of a science communicator is to make science accessible to various audiences, it's more than that. I think, as that "middle person" between scientists and the general public, we are responsible to give people accurate information upon which to base their decisions. We also have the important role of reducing misinformation and misconceptions that are easily found on the internet- I like being the protector of information, in a way.
I write because... The truth is, growing up, I couldn’t find many stories of women of color that were scientists. I didn’t see myself among the male scientists you saw in children books. I want to change that for the upcoming generations and provide them with the sorts of books I wish I had at their age. I'm in the middle of writing my first YA/MG (Young Adults/Middle Grade) book that features diversity in characters, sci-fi/magic elements, language learning (you'll learn some common Spanish phrases) and SCIENCE. I am passionate about promoting and encouraging science literacy in all ages because I believe a society with a higher science literacy will be able to make better judgements and decisions about the world around them!
I fight for women in STEM because... I believe anyone can do science, regardless of their background! I am outspokenly passionate about the potential of young women, especially Latina women. Just like the visibility of women in STEM is important for kids, the absence of females in leadership roles can be a contributing factor to why many women once in a STEM career don’t stay. I aim to change that: to continue being a fierce advocate for women and minorities and help champion them. I want to shine the spotlight on those scientists who are different and help show younger generations how many amazing (and sometimes free!) opportunities exist as a STEM major. And as a scientific community, we have to promote careers in science, encourage young women and, most importantly, by giving minorities and women the tools they need to succeed, I believe we can achieve true diversity and equality in science.
This long-winded post just comes down to one thing:
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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