The Successful Female Asian Americans

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I once stubbornly believed I couldn’t be an engineer. Growing up as a female Asian-American, I didn’t see other female Asian-Americans in engineering—I couldn’t envision being an engineer. At the time, I didn’t realize that I associated my future potential with examples of successful female Asian-Americans. The successful female Asian-Americans I knew were in health fields. They were doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Having grown up in a rather traditional Asian family, I had subconsciously viewed females as nurturers. As a result, I first pursued pharmacy. Although I excelled in all my math courses, the traditional notion that, as a female, my strengths lied in empathy and communication was so deep-rooted that I thought I would never be “good enough” at math. When I was a highschooler taking college courses at Seattle Central College, several times my science and math professors suggested I pursue engineering. Each time, I grinned wryly and shook my head. The unwavering belief that I lacked the skills to be a successful engineer plagued me until I lead a botany research project. In a week, I organized a team and put together a research proposal for studying the effects of light color on the growth of pea plants. As part of the study, I designed a structure to expose groups of plants to specific light spectra. In addition to being functional, the structure had to remain within a budget, be constructible in the cramped spaces we were given in the greenhouse, and allow easy access to the plants. Although our research wasn’t groundbreaking, the problem-solving and creativity I funneled into designing the project, especially engineering the light-isolating structure, was intellectually fulfilling. It was the first time... ... middle of paper ... ... one of the teams with the most females and Asians present. Moreover, although the Concrete Canoe Competition is hosted by a civil engineering organization, the UW team recognize the importance of a diverse team and actively encouraged the participation of electrical, mechanical, material science, and industrial engineers, as well as pre-engineering and art students or students who have yet to decide on a major. As an aspiring structural engineer, I want to continue encouraging fellow female engineers. After graduate school, by working on sustainable and unorthodox projects that challenge me to think ambitiously and creatively—by making myself known in the structural engineering field—I want to encourage and inspire future female engineers and, in effect, change our culture so that women, especially Asian-American women, have the confidence to become great engineers.
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