This is a guest post from Cami, our Community Plug.
As a young woman of color, I have faced hella obstacles in the fight for access to support and opportunities for success in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics.) It’s really crazy, but the last two years have really made my heart heavy. I’ve always been aware about the struggle not only as a minority, but a woman. In the recent months, there have been moments where I really felt like there was just no way I was going to make it. When I finally figured out that I wanted to go into a career in STEM, I felt discouraged by the fact that I was so far behind my peers that I would be competing with. My peers were kids who had parents that were CEOs, Engineers, and Doctors. These kids spent their summers in $800/ week tech camps for elementary school-aged kids. I felt like I was so far behind that it would be impossible to catch up and even have a shot at competing.
Photo by: Ryan Larez
I really struggled with myself and at one point I did not know if I was really going to be able to see this through. More often than not, I was the only person of color and sometimes even the only woman. Some days I felt valiant and brave, and other days I felt like I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide in my bed. As much as I love the Bay for its diversity, the snide remarks I hear about my race and gender really took a toll at one point. There was a time when I was the only Hispanic person and one of three women at a convention at Cal… I literally had to go outside and cry. I called my mom and I felt like the odds were so heavily stacked against me, it was really overwhelming. Being from a low income, first generation family, it’s been difficult finding people who look like me in the technology field. It’s hella discouraging to be in a room filled with bright young people and not seeing any other women or any other people of color. It really made me wonder, where are all the Latinas? All the Black girls? A new University of California Hastings study finds the difficulties if you are a women of color in tech:
- Both Latinas and Black women report regularly being mistaken as janitors.
- Latinas reported that when they assert themselves, they risk being seen as “angry” or “too emotional”
- Black women felt they have more leeway in terms of expressing emotion so long as they aren’t perceived as “angry black women”
Although I’m still on my own journey for access and opportunity, I am always looking for ways to empower and support young people interested in a career in STEM.
Yes We Code and Coding Crops is offering a full time bootcamp for FREE for minorities in Alameda County.
“In partnership with the White House’s TechHire initiative, #YesWeCode has committed to delivering $10 million in scholarships for 2,000 underserved minorities across the country, to attend coding bootcamps over the next ten years.”
“The Coding Corps is facilitated by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and #YESWECODE.
The mission of Coding Corps is to provide high quality computer coding training to Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian youth aged 18 – 28 and to provide them with apprenticeship positions at high-level tech companies upon completion of the training portion of the program.”
The application is quite lengthy and is due Oct. 23rd. Here is the link: https://healthpipeline.wufoo.com/forms/zcoypfd1ltjz4f/
To minorities and young men: You can really do it. It’s going to be tough and you’ll probably cry a lot (if you’re as emotional as I am) but the sole act of actively trying and persevering is an act of social justice. Simply existing is an act of social justice. My mom’s advice is probably better than mine, though.