“Sarah, you’re just never going to get it,” one of my middle school teachers stated with frustration. Not only to me, but in front of the entire class. Naturally, I was mortified to sit there and listen to her declaration. It felt like everyone was looking right through me–into my organs and into my brain. I felt like my teacher did not see the passion within me. While not much changed for me in that class, the science class I had the next year allowed me to showcase my passion for science and succeed, which better prepared me for the future.
I was always interested in medicine. Starting at a young age, I would consistently gravitate toward science-themed books, movies, etc. Having the determination and support from family, friends and teachers to move forward despite any struggle has encouraged me to become infinitely more confident and strong since middle school. I believe it is important to build up the girls around you, the way society often does for boys, to push them to believe in themselves and know they can accomplish anything they have the passion in their hearts to achieve.
Today, I work at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation. Sometimes it is intimidating and overwhelming. It is also exhilarating. I am learning from some of the most innovative minds. I feel inspired on a daily basis to push forward to do more, think more, and lead more. I am inspired in large part by the strong female scientists that I work with. They set an example for me that women can learn anything, even traditionally male oriented fields like biology, engineering, math, or medicine.
Recently, I read a report about the number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the reasons why women are not pursuing these careers. The report hypothesizes that one reason girls are less likely to choose STEM careers is because of how they perceive themselves. In a research study, girls assessed their mathematical abilities as less than the boys did, even when their mathematical achievements were equal.
I feel lucky that there have been people in my life who have encouraged me to embrace medicine as a career choice. My grandparents, in particular, were two of the most notable supporters for my love for medicine. I have fond memories of trips to museums, birthday gifts filled with science-related goodies, and words of wisdom to follow my passion. They had the vision that I could do anything with focus and determination. Just one person can make a difference in a girl’s perception of her abilities.
Now, I challenge you: How can we encourage strong girls to discover and embrace their abilities in STEM? Will you encourage a girl to pursue a STEM field?

Sarah was a SWSG mentor and Chapter Director from 2008-2010 at Simmons College. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy, working full time at a Boston hospital and loves to do ballet and read in her free time.