"If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world." - If/Then
I have become an advocate and active in the community to support Women in STEM by being involved with numerous organizations, speaking at events, and mentoring young girls.
If we show girls examples of STEM role models while they’re young, then they’re more likely to pursuit a STEM career.
Considering I am a Cloud Engineer, responsible for the development of an application, I use STEM every day in my career. I use multiple programming languages and cloud technologies to develop solutions which provide methods for my employer’s customers to interact us virtually and integrate their systems with ours, essentially creating an e-commerce platform by streamlining the ordering process. My website gives more control and power to not only customers, but also vendors (competitors) by allowing them to perform more actions on their own resulting in lower workload on us. For example, a feature I helped implement on my website reduced our call center volume over 30% by turning a 42-step process over a 20-minute phone call into a 5-minute self-service task.
I have been an advocate for STEM for years and have used my experiences to seek out opportunities to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers. I knew when I was young that I wanted to go into Computer Science, but I did not have any female role models growing up and faced many trials during my career. When I was crowned Miss Kentucky International 2016, I chose #WomenInSTEM as my platform and used my title to publicize Women in STEM and tell others my experiences. My experiences include but are not limited to: Public Speaker for Girl Scouts, Society of Women Engineers, KY Lieutenant Governor’s Girls STEM Clubs, Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Leadership Committee, Million Women Mentors Kentucky Steering Committee, FabFems Role Model, SciGirls Code Role Model, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition Mentor, SHE++ College Ambassador, and more. To continue my passion in promoting STEM within my career, I became a Lead Recruiter for the IT Function and visit several college campuses each semester to recruit incoming talent.
Growing up, I didn’t have strong examples of women in STEM for role models that I could look up to. I was rarely encouraged to pursue my interest in computers and was often teased by my peers for being “nerdy”. Early on in my career, I had to work twice as hard to gain respect and prove my technical abilities to my male peers who assumed I didn’t have the skills required for the job. Working in a male dominated field, I’ve had my femininity questioned and ridiculed by my peers. At one point, I felt like everything I did was under a microscope; the way I styled my hair, the amount of makeup I wore, or the shoes I wore were associated with my ability to write code. My two most memorable experiences were the time when a male told me to keep my “pageant stuff” at home because it gave others a bad impression of me, and the time when I passionately disagreed with a solution and a male later asked me if I was menstruating. I’ve dealt with so many things aimed at bringing me down that no girl should ever have to go through. Its these experiences of mine, and my current success that fuel my passion to inspire girls interested in STEM fields. I want to show them that no matter what you endure, you can succeed. I want to be a positive role model for girls and show them that they can be interested in STEM without losing their femininity. Having mothers and teachers thank me for after public speaking and see their interest in my journey, as well as seeing girls smiles and their faces light up when I tell them about what I’ve done, these reactions are all I could ever hope for when speaking.
What Others Are Saying...
"As one of the longest-serving members of the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Leadership Team, Andrea’s efforts with STEM mentoring and outreach have made her one of the most visible (and active) champions of Kentucky’s girls in STEM. Andrea has committed herself to increasing the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers " - KGSC