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By Elyse Stoltz Dickerson
Be Curious and have a learning mindset. Cultural stereotypes and unconscious biases often send girls a message that they are not good at science and math. The message is reinforced when girls look around and see mainly men in STEM professions. The message then becomes part of the belief system, reinforcing it even further. In an effort to avoid failure, young women often shy away from pursuing a degree or career in STEM.
To overcome this obstacle, women must learn to turn off the negative voices in their heads and cultivate a learning mindset. This mindset empowers them to build intelligence over a lifetime through hard work and curiosity. It removes the belief that you have to learn everything you need to know in school and lowers the barriers to entry into STEM later in your career.
I am a walking example. With a BA in graphic design and an MBA, I have spent almost two decades working in the STEM field. I learned the science and medical information on the job, constantly reading and asking questions along the way. I figured out that if I surround myself with people that are more knowledgeable than me, I can learn from them. I’m still learning every day and my goal is to maintain a curious mind throughout my life.
Reframe every obstacle as a challenge and opportunity
Everyone encounters obstacles, but it is how you decide to respond to the obstacle that determines if you rise or fall. I like to reframe obstacles by viewing them as challenges to overcome and new opportunities for growth and learning. This simple technique shifts my perspective from a negative state to a positive state, dramatically changing how I respond.
Inevitably we all encounter self-doubt. To counteract this doubt, surround yourself with people that believe in you and your mission. They will help drown out the naysayers. There will always be someone telling you that you are not good enough or smart enough, so you have to learn to trust the people around you that believe in you.
Eventually, their belief in you will transfer into belief in yourself. This self-confidence can be harnessed to take on any challenge that comes your way.
Step through your fear
Fear holds us all back. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of looking stupid. The reality is that no matter what path you choose to take in life, there will always be uncertainties. And with these uncertainties, you have a choice. You can choose to let it stop you, or you can choose to embrace it as a challenge worth pursuing.
I spent the first 10 years of my career unconsciously afraid. I always chose the ‘safe bet’ when confronted with a difficult choice. But playing it safe limits our ability to grow. When we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we discover what we are really capable of achieving. Often things that once seemed completely out of reach become attainable. I use the following formula to help step through my fears.
- The first step is to recognize your fear, which is a difficult feat in itself.
- The second step is to name your fears and ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen.
- The third step is to make a plan to move through the fear. It is often helpful to call on your trusted friends and supporters to help you take this step.
I recommend starting with small things. Maybe it is something as simple as trying a new fitness class that seems intimidating. What’s the worst that can happen? You may not be able to keep up or you may feel self-conscious, but ultimately, it’s not going to kill you. You will be amazed by how free you will feel. Tackle bigger fears as you go. This practice will help you build confidence over time. Learning to step through your fears will give you the power and confidence to take on the male-dominated STEM field and establish your place within it.
Elyse Stoltz Dickerson is Co-founder and CEO of Eosera Inc.
April 3, 2019 at 07:48PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs