BOSTON GLOW
Boston GLOW is a breeding ground for the modern day superwoman. GLOW fosters opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active world citizens.


Not A Barbie Conference Guest Post: Lynne Reznick

“Lean In and Close Your Eyes”: What Posing Countless Couples Has Taught Me About Leadership

By Lynne Reznick

 shooter_shot-0003.jpg

I’ve been a wedding and portrait photographer for six years. One of my favorite things about capturing “posed” portraits of couples on their wedding day is making them feel as natural and comfortable as possible as they lean in, close their eyes, and snuggle in front of my camera. These newlyweds are not used to being in front of a camera and it is NOT natural to act like you’re alone having an intimate moment while I’m three feet away taking rapid fire photos. A great photographer, just like a great leader, can quickly make you feel at ease, establish trust, direct you clearly and respectfully, keep things fun, and get great results. And the best photographers (and leaders) will make this series of tough tasks look easy while they’re doing it.

Much like learning how to pose couples naturally is a skill you can practice and develop over time, so are good leadership skills. Here are some lessons I’ve learned behind my camera that can help you be a great leader. And you don’t even have to suffer through the awkward poses and cheesy grins.

1) Stay Calm and Confident – Wedding days are wonderful. But they are also a rollercoaster of emotions for the couple. As the photographer, I need to stay calm and confident throughout the day. Many couples end up running behind and time gets crunched from 60 minutes for photos to 15 minutes. I’m dying inside but when the bride looks at me to make sure it will work, “Of course we can get everything you want in 15 minutes – no sweat!” If I start stressing or freezing up, then the couple stresses and worries and that is not why I’m there.  They take their lead from me when it comes time for photos. So I’m always working to stay calm and confident in the moment. Even if I’m faking it sometimes.

2) Show, Don’t Tell – “Put your left foot forward, shift your weight to your back foot, turn from the waist at a 45-degree angle and smile at the tree in the distance. Great.” Now imagine I stand next to you and while I say each step, I also do it. I model it for you, so you know exactly what I mean by 45 degrees and turn from the waist. As my model, you’ll be much more relaxed and confident if you have clear guidance from me. And as a matter of trust, couples want to know that I’m willing to get in whatever pose I’m asking them to do. Similarly, people appreciate a leader who communicates clearly, actively supports them, and leads by example.

3) Give Positive Feedback, Often – Every couple gets nervous in front of the camera, at least at the start. The best way for me to quickly ease their nerves is to let them know they are doing a great job. And with every “perfect”, “beautiful”, “I love that” I give them, they give me bigger smiles, sweeter laughs, and genuine joy because they feel good about how things are going and they know I’m happy too. Now I don’t lie, so if a pose isn’t working, I’ll change it up, but when I get them in a great spot all snuggled in and looking amazing – I LET THEM KNOW! Everyone likes to be shown recognition and appreciation for a job well done.


4) It’s Not Just About What You Say, It’s Also About How You Say It – If I want fun, laughter, and high energy, I’ll be loud and smiley and crack a joke along with the couple. If I want a soft, quiet moment, I speak softly, and give calm slow directions to set a slow and soft space for a tender moment to linger. And if I sound angry, frustrated, or disappointed, the couple will tense up and the moment will be lost. As the leader in this moment,the couple will follow my lead and feed off the energy I give them.

 

P.S. You can check out Lynne's work at www.lynnereznickphotography.com!

 

shooter_shot-0004.jpg

Add your reaction Share

Not A Barbie Conference Guest Post: Keynote Speaker Dina Vargo

Today's post is from author and speaker, Dina Vargo.  Dina is the author of Wild Women of Boston, and we are honored to have her join us as our opening keynote speaker at the Not A Barbie Career and Empowerment Conference on April 8th.  To learn more about Dina, the conference, and our amazing Dinaimage(1).PNGworkshops, please visit https://bostonglownotabarbiecareera2017.sched.com/

 

HISTORY OFFERS PERSPECTIVE AS WELL AS INSPIRATION

 

Boston’s history is filled with what I call “Wild Women.” There are countless female firebrands, matronly mavericks and rabble-rousing reformers throughout Boston’s history who could literally fill a book…or two…or three.

 

For example:

  • The first African American poet in America’s history? Check. Phyllis Wheatley.

  • The only Mayflower passenger to make her way to Boston? Mary Chilton is buried in King’s Chapel Cemetery.

  • The first African American female doctor and registered nurse? Double check. Rebecca Lee Crumpler and Mary Eliza Mahoney.

  • Writers of classic literature? Authors Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe both wrote and lived in Boston.

  • Looking for the leader of the campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday? Give thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale.

  • Searching for suffragettes? My vote goes to Julia Ward Howe, Lucy Stone and Maud Wood Park.

  • Teachers of the blind? Annie Sullivan taught Helen Keller after being educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in South Boston.

 

Nobel Peace Prize winners, scientists, doctors and nurses. Architects, composers and artists. Writers and teachers. Collectors and patrons. Entrepreneurs. Abolitionists. Reformers. Boston has many women to be proud of. There is a Boston Women’s Heritage Trail with no fewer than sixteen self-guided walks through almost as many Boston neighborhoods.

  

However, I like to think about the OTHER women, the women who don’t traditionally make the lists above. Their stories are no less remarkable. Like Elizabeth Murray and the Cuming sisters who were entrepreneurs in colonial Boston. Mercy Otis Warren did her job to galvanize the public in supporting independence from England in the run-up to the Revolutionary War. Sarah Parker Remond refused to be moved over one hundred years before Rosa Parks boarded a bus, and Kathrine Switzer ran her own “rogue” marathon in Boston.

 

Many of these women had a lot in common. None of them really set out to be mavericks—well, except for Isabella Stewart Gardner, who was a natural at thumbing her nose at Boston’s elite while they had no choice but to bow to her wishes. Most of these women found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and had the fortitude to meet their challenges head on. They by and large claimed no wish or need for the spotlight. One can picture Mary Brown Patten shrinking after being lionized in the newspapers after she piloted a clipper ship around Cape Horn in the stormiest of winter seasons. She died in practical anonymity, and she wanted it that way.

 

Others were concerned about not stepping out of proscribed boundaries; Mercy Otis Warren in part wrote anonymously because her writing would not have carried the weight that it did if people knew she was a woman. Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall put the leadership of the Audubon Society in the hands of men, knowing they faced the same problem as Mercy. And that was over one hundred years later! And our most modern of Boston’s wild women sits quietly by the sea, secure in the fact that she got her job as the nation’s first and only female U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse keeper because she was the best person for it. Have we come a long way, baby? There’s hope yet.

 

There are many other stories waiting to be told, and stories still being made every day. There’s so much to be learned and to be inspired by in taking a good look back to history. Look no further than our Congresswomen who all wore white to President Trump’s address on February 28th to signify they stood in solidarity for women’s rights out of respect and reverence for the suffragettes who led the fight for women’s voting rights. Those rights were hard won. Consider that the suffragettes started in earnest in 1848 at Seneca Falls and cast a vote for the first time in 1920. That’s a 72-year-long battle.

 

There are so many stories to share, so many stories worth knowing. I will be honored to do my part to bring a bit of inspiration and uplift via history at the Not a Barbie Conference next month.



Add your reaction Share

Not A Barbie Conference Guest Post: Helena Berbano

“Forgetting Hesitance”

As an adolescent, I was hesitant to “show off” my leadership skills. I led school clubs and was involved in leadership oriented activities but I was never the first one to skillshare. I undermined the knowledge I had, and to a certain extent did not realize the value of my experiences. This hesitance had a lot to do with my identity which was the fact that I was a girl,Helena_image.png and an Asian American.

 

As an Asian American young girl, the burden of the “model minority myth” affected me deeply. There was always that little voice in my head that told me to ‘never fail’ as I was growing up. It didn’t help that my peers and even some of my teachers reinforced this belief in me. In addition, as a young woman, I was told to ‘not be bossy’ and to ‘not be aggressive’ - things that boys were praised for. I was even told multiple times to ‘be polite’, and ‘let the boys handle it’.

 

Luckily, I grew out of listening to those voices. Though these factors continue to affect me as an adult (see: model minority myth and socialized gender norms), I have pushed through these hindrances. I fully embrace that my perspective is important and valid because of my identity - not in spite of it.

 

This is why I make it a point to seek out opportunities and engagements that celebrate my identity like Boston GLOW’s 2017 Not Your Barbie Conference. The voices of women of color are vital, and I am happy to lend my expertise, skillshare, and even present my failures. In fact, I will be doing all three of these things at the April conference - I will be presenting on my own experience, leadership, and missteps in my session - Starting a Social Justice Initiative on the Fly: Not Quite Winging It.

 

Join me in forgetting hesitance, daring to lead, and celebrating our unique voices. I’m not your Barbie. I’m not your model minority. I am a leader.

Hear more from Helena Berbano at the 2nd Annual #NotABarbie Career and Empowerment Conference on April 8th.  Learn more about Helena's workshop and the other speaker at https://bostonglownotabarbiecareera2017.sched.com/tickets

Add your reaction Share

Not A Barbie Conference Guest Post: Cassandre Joseph

Today's blog post is from Not A Barbie Career and Empowerment Conference Keynote Speaker, Cassandre Joseph. Learn more about Cassandre and the other speakers of the April 8th conference HERE.

 

 

Self-care: Six ways to make it an actual part of your life

 

Self-care is a word that recently has gotten a lot of buzz and there are many ways to view and define self-care. But I like to use the definition provided by Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre  who defined self-care as “care provided for you by you. It’s about identifying what you need and taking steps to meet those needs. Self-care is about showing yourself love, kindness, and respect on a daily basis.”  Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day parts of our lives that we forget about ourselves, I find this to be especially true as women. That’s why self-care is extremely important to me and not just a word that I fantasize about coming true. I really believe that practicing self-care is all of our highest priority and that it is very possible for us to make self-care an actual part of our lives. I also believe that when self-care is practiced on a daily basis, it allows you to be your best self, which then gives you the capacity to do all that you want to do.  Thankfully, despite what society may think, we aren’t robots and we weren’t made to keep going and going and giving and giving without recharging and addressing our own needs. Now I could go on and on about why everyone should prioritize self-care but I couldn’t leave you without giving you some tips on how to start practicing self-care on a daily basis.

 

Below are six tips to make a self-care an actual part of your life:

 

  1. Think about the snatches of time throughout your day when you’re not really doing anything productive. We all have 10 minutes here or 10 minutes there that we can use to practice self-care. Maybe it’s during your commute to and from work or during your lunch break, work with what you’ve got!

  2. Once you’ve found those times, schedule it! Put in your phone or write it down in your agenda book. Just make sure it’s in a place that you can see daily.

  3. Set reminders on your phone. For most of us, our phones have become an extension of our bodies. Since you always have your phone with you, that means you’ll always have a reminder. Therefore, the likelihood of you forgetting decreases.

  4. Don’t over think it. If you only have 5 minutes in the morning to practice some meditation then use those 5 minutes, instead of not doing it all. Remember 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes and it adds up over time.

  5. Get an accountability partner. Maybe you can start by getting a group of your friends and going to a weekly gym class. Sometimes it’s easier to stick to a goal if you have someone to hold you accountable.

  6. Get an app. Thankfully there are so many apps out there that can assist you in making self-care a part of your day. For example, the Insight Timer app  has a plethora of meditations that are 5 minutes or more long. I also enjoy using the Forest app when I know I need to unplug from social media and stop using my phone. Get creative and find an app that will help you.

Those are some of my tips on how to make self-care an actual part of your life. Let me know if you try one or feel free to add your own tip in the comments section below!

 

Hear more from Cassandre at the 2nd Annual #NotABarbie Career and Empowerment Conference on April 8th.  Tickets available https://bostonglownotabarbiecareera2017.sched.com/tickets

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Not A Barbie for That...

Several folks have asked us, "Barbie isn't so bad, why do you host the #NotABarbie Career and Empowerment Conference?"  We invited last year's Director of Organized Woman and Conference Chair, Tashia Graham to share insights on today's blog.  Don't forget, tickets to the 2nd Annual #NotABarbie Career and Empowerment Conference are now available. 

Not A Barbie for That

On a spring evening in 2014 a singer-songwriter, an author, a business writer, a nonprofit program manager, a city government worker, a financial professional/ aspiring chef, and a human resources professional met to plan out the year of programming for Boston GLOW. All seven women found themselves at transitional periods in their careers, so inevitably the conversation got derailed a bit and Not_A_Barbie_NoGreen.pngturned to work.

For most of us, there was no roadmap for what to do next. We got to thinking about how, for lots of little girls and young women out there, the plethora of career paths available are unclear. Most of us didn’t grow up knowing a woman in STEM or a woman who made her living as a nonprofit administrator. No little girl dreams of being a Human Resources Manager when she grows up!

For many of us, our first career role model was Barbie. Growing up we were fortunate to see Barbie neatly packaged as a veterinarian, a gymnast, an astronaut, but never anything even closely resembling the types of jobs that we had ended up in. Barbie could change her jobs at will. She didn’t work in a cubicle, and she certainly didn’t have student loan debt or child care costs to worry about! We just didn’t see ourselves or the women we know represented in the narrow career options of America’s most popular plastic career woman.

At GLOW we pride ourselves on providing mentorship and leadership opportunities for gender minorities of all ages. We believe that we all succeed when we can see ourselves in others, when the women ahead of us light the way. From our Spitfire Networking Series to our Girls’ Leadership programming we provide opportunities for women and girl to collaborate and learn from each other. We thought it would be awesome to go to a career conference that showcased women in our community excelling in a variety of fields. And so the Not a Barbie Career and Empowerment conference was born!

nabconferencegroup.jpegAs a small, volunteer managed nonprofit, it took some time for us to plan our inaugural conference. The first Not a Barbie conference was held in 2016. Fifteen speakers shared their expertise in creative careers, community organizing, entrepreneurship, finance, and more. We networked, shared stories, made connections, but most importantly, we walked away thinking “let’s do that again!”.

We invite you to join us on April 8th for the 2nd Annual Not A Barbie Career ad Empowerment Conference.  Details of sessions, speaker bios, and tickets can be found: https://bostonglownotabarbiecareera2017.sched.com/

 

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” — Whoopi Goldberg

Add your reaction Share

Conference Guest Post! From Patient to Advocate: How My Personal Brand Helped Launch My Career

From Patient to Advocate: How My Personal Brand Helped Launch My Career

A Guest Post by Lilly Stairs

Five years ago, my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that resulted in total body arthritis and paralyzing pain that made even the slightest movement excruciating. Five months after my Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosis, bleeding ulcers were found in my small intestine and I was diagnosed with yet another autoimmune disorder – Crohn’s Disease.

At the ripe age of nineteen I had received back-to-back diagnoses of serious, life-long chronic illnesses. I endured countless failed treatments, debilitating fatigue, strained relationships, and more pain than I could have ever imagined. But I am blessed to have just celebrated three years of remission because of a life-saving therapy. I now live a relatively “normal” life and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Shortly after I was diagnosed, I launched a blog entitled Autoimmune Barbie where I chronicled my trials and triumphs throughout my patient journey. I was overjoyed to find that my experiences resonated with fellow patients and eventually had over 10,000 views on my blog.

Not only did my Autoimmune Barbie blog and social media accounts provide an outlet to support other patients, they helped me launch a professional career in patient advocacy. My presence as an online influencer was well received by healthcare and biotech companies where my passion and experience as a patient are highly valued.

Since I launched my career, I have had the opportunity to work at a series of leading healthcare and biotech organizations including my current role as Head of Patient Advocacy at Clara, a startup working to transform the clinical trial experience.

As I have grown both personally and professionally, I retired Autoimmune Barbie and established myself not only as a patient advocate, but a young professional who wants to make a difference in the world and help others do the same. Alongside helping launch a career I love, my personal brand continually aids me in building credibility as a thought leader in the patient advocacy and social impact spheres. Above all else, it provides an outlet for me to support and inspire fellow patients and change-makers.

While my autoimmune diseases caused me to endure the most difficult trials of my life, I am thankful for them because they gave me a purpose. It has become my life’s mission to support patients as they march through their journey and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to achieve this mission via my personal and professional life.  

---

Join Lilly at GLOW’s Spitfire on Thursday, March 2nd to learn how you too can pursue your passion and build your personal brand from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Hostelling International!

Learn more about Lilly by visiting her website and following her on Twitter and Instagram

 

Add your reaction Share

Spitfire Recap: Leveraging White Privilege

 Last week, 40 people came to discuss white privilege and ways to leverage it for social justice at GLOW's January Spitfire. The conversation touched on many aspects of privilege and centered on allyship. 

Allyship

An ally is defined as "a person, group, or nation associated or united with another in a common purpose." By definition, allyship is two sided, and requires consent and buy-in. It's a partnership rather than an assistant or savior.

Dr. Natalie Perry emphasized that aspiring allies "need to check in with the person you are trying to be an ally for to make sure you aren't talking over someone or whitesplaining." She believes that "good allyship starts with having a personal relationship and understanding that you don’t know everything."

Elizabeth Baldwin noted that she prefers to "use the word accomplice rather than ally because it emphasizes that you are in in together, but if you are in it and thinking 'I have to help people,' then you aren’t being an ally." She also stressed that "you’re gonna mess up and that’s ok, but be willing to lean into it" and hold yourself accountable.

Action Steps to Be Better Allies:

Attendees broke out into groups and shared concrete actions steps white folks can take to be better allies. We talked about sharing your power, calling out racism, pushing through uncomfortable situations, and putting your privilege on the line. Here are some more possible action steps:
  • Read more books and listen to more podcasts produced by people of color
  • Connect, develop authentic relationships, organize programming, and build community around racial justice 
  • Talk to family members and other white people about racism
  • For those involved in hiring at their organizations, focus on inclusion and diversity
  • Educate yourself about racism so that people of color do not have to
  • Remember the difference between charity and social justice (crumbs from the table vs. a seat at the table)
  • Ensure non-white voices are included, especially in conversations that directly impact them
  • Put your money where your mouth is- figuratively, and literally by donating time and money to social justice causes
  • Focus on listening, specifically listening to learn rather than listening just to respond

And Our Speakers Have a Few Suggestions:

Silence helps perpetuate privilege and racial injustice.
Thank you for helping us end the silence.

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Discussing White Privilege

At our monthly Spitfire event on Thursday, Boston GLOW is hosting a panel discussion and conversation about white privilege and how to leverage it for racial justice. It’s no small question, and one we know we can’t even try to fully answer in a few hours. But we believe it’s important to make space for the community to come together and have uncomfortable conversations about race, racial justice, and, yes, privilege.

We thought it might be helpful to provide a few resources for people to learn about (or brush up on) white privilege and reflect before the event on Thursday.

The clip above from Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity helped spark the inspiration for this conversation. In it, author and educator Dr. Joy DeGruy shares about a time when her sister-in-law used her white privilege to stand up to systemic inequity at the grocery store.

In this powerful and personal article, Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Good Black News, shares examples of racism she has faced and offers her reflections on what those instances show about white privilege.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is a well-known essay that offers a numbered list of concrete examples of white privilege in the every day life of author Dr. Peggy McIntosh. A few examples: "I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time," and "I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group." 

And here is a brief overview and a longer article about the Cycle of Socialization, which helps us understand how different people are socialized to play different roles in society and in oppression.

We hope to see you on Thursday, ready for some real talk on privilege and racial justice.

Add your reaction Share

Equal Pay Spitfire Recap

We kicked off our first Spitfire community discussion earlier this month! There won’t be a Spitfire in October because we are busy organizing our fabulous annual Ignite the Nite gala! It’s next Saturday, October 1 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Come and enjoy music, dancing, drinks, food, our silent auction, and supporting women and girls in Boston. We hope to see you there!

The MA Equal Pay Law

At the September Spitfire, we covered the Equal Pay bill that was signed into law this August. It makes Massachusetts one of only 6 U.S. states with strong equal pay laws and was on the front page of the New York Times!

The Spitfire featured three incredible guest speakers who each worked hard to get the bill passed: Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations and a founding member of the MA Equal Pay Coalition; Jill Ashton, Director of Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women; and Dave Rini Esq., Prison Rape Elimination Act Project Coordinator at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and former VP of Legislation for Mass NOW.

They gave an overview of the law, background on what it took to get it passed, and a look ahead to the future.

Three big points of the law*

  • It states that employees who are doing comparable work have to be paid comparable compensation

  • It incentivizes employers to conduct an internal audit of compensation to make sure they comply with the law- they will receive some level of protection against lawsuits if they can prove they are trying to fix any problems they find

  • It aims to end secrecy about pay- employers can’t ask interviewees what they made at a prior job and they can’t punish employees for talking about compensation with their coworkers

A few more highlights*

  • “Comparable work” is defined as requiring similar skill, effort, and responsibility; it isn’t based on job title or description but on the work that people are actually doing

  • Employers can’t reduce someone else’s pay to comply

  • There is no exemption for companies based on size

  • Despite the fact that the pay gap for women of color is even wider than for white women, the bill doesn’t explicitly mention race; it does say that a special coalition needs to analyze pay inequity based on race and other protected classes, and lawyers can still use this law to better protect women of color

  • It goes into effect in July 2018

Background

Equal pay has been a legislative issue in Massachusetts for nearly two decades. For comparison, people have been trying to pass an equal pay bill at the federal level for over 50 years. The MA bill was supported by a coalition of around 40 organizations. Our speakers believe the bill passed so quickly because (1) a lot of people have worked hard to make equal pay an important and relatively noncontroversial issue, and (2) the bill afforded some protection to companies that can show they are actually trying to improve their pay practices.

Looking Forward

We will have to wait until July 2018 to really see the impacts of the equal pay law. In the meantime, our speakers believe that we need to spread the word. They hope that by the time it goes into effect, people will know about the law and what it can mean for them.

We can also use this law to help address similar issues in the future, like family leave, disability, and reproductive healthcare. Looking to the future for equal pay, our speakers think we need to get employers to include pay ranges in job descriptions, address recruiting practices around pay, and focus on closing the wider pay gaps that exist for women of color.

 


*We’re not lawyers. This post represents our understanding of the bill and what it means in general terms; it is not legal or business advice and we can’t guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this content. We recommend you consult a lawyer or other appropriate professional if you want legal or business advice.

Add your reaction Share

Organized Woman Spotlight: Danielle Olson, Founder of Gique



It isn't every day that you meet a woman in the community and within a matter of minutes are inspired by their determination and brilliance.  However, this is exactly what happened when we met Danielle Olson, founder of Gique.  After two months of hearing from our #RealGirlLeaders, we are excited to highlight women in our community who are making things happen, meeting their goals and empowering others along the way.  Today we are  thrilled to kick off our #OW
Spotlight Series with Danielle Olson.  You can learn more about Danielle at http://hellodanio.com and we're sure you'll want to after reading as she highlights her passion as a successful, intelligent woman of color providing innovating resources in the STEM field!

"When you’re completely focused on doing something you truly love, you lose your sense of ego & time."

Danielle_Olson_Bio_Photo.jpg

We asked Danielle to tell us a little bit more about her goals, and here's what she had to say.

I suppose you could call me idealistic, but I truly believe that each of us has a unique perspective that can be used to better the world in some way. In middle school, what drew me to join my school’s newspaper club was the idea that writing could help me empower myself and empower others. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I was exposed to the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) after enrolling in a Girls Exploring Engineering (GE2) mentorship program. This program helped me discover my passion for engineering, which provided me a way to, quite literally, build a better world.

To expand my understanding and knowledge of engineering, I learned about a 6-week summer program at MIT called Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) while searching online, applied, and got accepted. Those 6 weeks at MITES with a class of 70 other students of color working together to learn and grow changed my life. It was the first time I’d been a part of a learning community that embraced the philosophy “it’s all about the delta,” which means that it’s not about 

qigue_square-01.png

where you start, but where you go. That’s what’s referred to as a growth mindset, and in a society that fails to provide an equitable quality of education to all students, a growth mindset is vital.

Quite frankly, when you’re a young woman of color working in software engineering, it is rare to see many other people that look like you leading the companies you admire. Most of the time, you don’t see a lot of people who look like you while you’re at the meeting table, either. However, in this industry, diversity of thought is critical because it challenges teams to craft better solutions for as many people as possible.  As someone who is underrepresented in this field, I feel compelled to use my unique voice to promote innovation. I also want to do what I can to help other young women and people of color to have their voices heard, as well. 

Today, I work as a Program Manager at the Microsoft New England Research & Development (NERD) Center in Kendall Square. I work on a product that enables people to be productive on their PCs and mobile devices while keeping their company’s data secure. It’s been a great experience learning how to listen to customers and figure out how to build software that makes their job a little easier. At the root of it all, I am passionate about building software because it can help make people’s lives better.


While I’m not at Microsoft, I spend my time running Gique (“geek”), an educational non-profit I started in my Senior House dorm room during my senior year at MIT. A gique is someone who combines art, science, and technology to innovate and make the world a better place. My organization’s mission is to inspire Boston-area youth about how to use art, science, and technology to bring their ideas to life. Growing Gique has been an awesome learning experience that has helped me to grow as an individual and as a member of a team of amazing, inspiring people.

One of my favorite quotes is by Leonardo da Vinci; he says: “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”  Traditional K-12 educational programs expose students to humanities, social studies, science, and math in silos. However, we don’t experience the world in those same silos, which makes it hard to map what we learn in the classroom to what we experience in our daily lives.

My aspiration is to provide our young people with a way to map what they experience in their unique lives into new ideas and innovations that make their world a better place. I believe we can do this by integrating art + design thinking into science and technology curriculum. That’s what we are doing with Gique.

For the past year and a half, we have been providing standalone educational workshops to people of all ages in Boston and Cambridge through dance, coding, typography, and more. I am very excited that beginning in September 2015, we will be teaching weekly hands-on educational workshops to middle school students at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester. Additionally, this November we will be running our first educational workshop at the Bay Area Science Festival in California – our first west coast event! Our goal is to expand our curriculum into a yearlong out-of-school time educational program for students in the Greater Boston area.

It’s through Gique that I’ve rekindled my journalistic passion for sharing other people’s stories, with the goal of eliminating that single story of the engineer and the scientist who only uses their left-brain. Because, you see, the danger of the single story, as West African writer Chimamanda Adichie says, is that it leads to stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.

The one thing that I hope to challenge the students I work with through Gique to do is to recognize that there is nobody like them. I challenge them to forge their own paths, to find their own passions, even when it means shattering the single story in order to author their own. I challenge them to recognize the power that they possess in the rich, multidimensional stories that they bring to the table – stories that will inform and enrich the designs of the next greatest technologies, the cure for cancer, 

IMG_9036.JPGand the engineering feats that will knock down boundaries our parents’ generation faced. I challenge them to start where they are, use what they have, and do what they can. And most importantly, I challenge them to embrace failure.

To not also share my stories of failure would be to flatten my own experience. In fact, were times during my 4 years at MIT when I wanted to quit, when I didn’t think I was going to pass the class, when it didn’t feel like it was going to eventually be “worth it.” However, with strong communities & mentorship, I persisted and I learned that the master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried. So, I want to challenge our students to embrace failure and persevere.

I’d like to finally share a message from engineer & artist, Bran Ferren, who was inspired to pursue both his passions for art & science after seeing the Pantheon, a famous building in Rome, as a young child:

“I've come to believe that the ingredients for the next Pantheons are all around us, just waiting for visionary people with the broad knowledge, multidisciplinary skills, and intense passion to harness them to make their dreams a reality. But these people don't spontaneously pop into existence. They need to be nurtured and encouraged from when they're little kids. We need to love them and help them discover their passions. We need to encourage them to work hard and help them understand that failure is a necessary ingredient for success, as is perseverance. We need to help them to find their own role models, and give them the confidence to believe in themselves and to believe that anything is possible, and just as my grandpa did when he took me shopping for surplus, and just as my parents did when they took me to science museums, we need to encourage them to find their own path, even if it's very different from our own.

But a cautionary note: We also need to periodically pry them away from their modern miracles, the computers, phones, tablets, game machines and TVs, take them out into the sunlight so they can experience both the natural and design wonders of our world, our planet and our civilization. If we don't, they won't understand what these precious things are that someday they will be responsible for protecting and improving. We also need them to understand something that doesn't seem adequately appreciated in our increasingly tech-dependent world, that art and design are not luxuries, nor somehow incompatible with science and engineering. They are in fact essential to what makes us special.”

Add your reaction Share

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9    13  14  Next →