I've previously covered why being a female engineer is awesome, but having a background in engineering can be a strong foundation for many different career paths. A great example of that is Eva (for once in the history of this blog, that's her actual name!), a cool scientist turned entrepreneur who has shifted to creating a unique line of clothes that combine the femininity of dresses, with "geeky" designs, with pockets! And who doesn't love pockets in dresses! If you didn't raise, your hand, you are lying to yourself right now.
|Now THIS is an infinity scarf|
But being serious for a second here, the work she is doing to show that "geeky" and "feminine" can describe the same thing is really important. Every little bit we change the dialogue can help impact our own engineering bubbles where we have to explain that an engineer "looks like" us. So hopefully, you'll support this cool project too. (PS I am not affiliated with this company, nor am I being paid to say this or share this).
My love of all things Science started when I was a kid. I found constant amazement in the world around me and wanted to know everything about everything. As a teenager, there was never any question in my mind about what field I wanted to pursue. My dream was to become a famous geneticist and to right the wrong done to my childhood hero, Rosalind Franklin, by being the first person to unlock the human genome. I tried to make my dream a reality when I went to college and obtained degrees in Biology & Psychology.
The stereotypes about female scientists started to really bother me very early in my career. Whenever I would tell people that I was a scientist, a way too frequent response back was, “You don’t look like a scientist.” I somehow managed to restrain myself from saying, “Really? Well, do you know what a punch in the face looks like, because I’d be happy to show you?!” Maybe it comes from having an awesome spitfire for a mom, but I have always viewed femininity as a huge strength. I unapologetically like wearing dresses, lip gloss, and heels. However, I also know that I’m tough as nails and don’t mind getting muddy in the name of science or discovery. I got completely fed up this notion of what a Scientist “looked like”. I worked my butt off to get where I was and I felt like I sincerely deserved everything I achieved. How could I possibly not look like I belonged in the field?Did I need to change my appearance to look more masculine so that people would accept my merits in my field? I just wasn’t willing to change who I was in order to fit people’s stereotypes about what I should look like.
Women who enter STEM fields are 45% more likely than their male counterparts to leave the field within a year, and sadly, I became a part of that statistic. There are a lot of factors involved in why I left my career in STEM, and it obviously isn’t solely because of the way I liked to dress. However, it did have a lot to do with feeling isolated and like I didn’t belong in my field. After a few career changes, I finally found my stride in e-Commerce.
Last year I joined forces with a former ThinkGeek co-worker to create a company called Svaha where we developed a line of children’s clothes featuring STEAM themes (Science | Technology |
Engineering | Art | Math). We wanted little girls to be able to wear dresses with code & chemistry experiment designs on them & we wanted to make it cool for boys to wear shirts with cats, rainbows, and butterflies! After we successfully launched the line, we started getting a flood of emails from women in STEAM fields asking us to make dresses for them too. We realized there was a missed market for women who want to showcase their love of STEAM themes.
We are really proud to introduce our Kickstarter campaign for Svaha STEAM Angels – Smart Dresses for Smart Women. The 5 dresses in this initial line each feature a STEAM theme. We want to create a way for women to own STEAM in their own way and prove that brainy is beautiful!
This is highly personal for me, as I want to change how our society views women in STEAM to prevent other women from going through the isolation that I felt. I think we desperately need more smart, strong, creative women working in STEAM or interested in STEAM, and Svaha wants to do its part to smash through gender stereotypes. Please support our Kickstarter campaign so that we can create many more fun, STEAM-themed women’s clothes for years to come!!