am currently a 16 year old junior in high school
that has started the whole college application
process, but before I can get a good grasp about
where I want to go I have to narrow down my interests.
problem is that I want to pursue a career in science,
maybe become an engineer, but my focus keeps changing
and on top of that my lack of confidence in those
subjects make them hard to pursue. I have genuine
interesting in the subjects, but it seems that
throughout my entire high school career I have
been deterred from pursuing them. I was forced
to repeat Algebra I in 8th grade after getting
into it as a 7th grader because my 'self esteem
wasn't high enough' according to my math teacher
(even though my grades were low A's and B+'s).
My teacher didn't make any effort at all to try
and help my esteem when I repeated the course,
and I just had to face the humiliation of staying
back by enduring the other student's talking about
me behind my back. But I've gotten past that hurtle
in math and have worked my way to the highest
math courses that my school offers.
in class I just listen and observe to learn instead
to actively participating because I don't have
enough faith in my answers, even though I know
I have good math ability. Of course my teacher
isn't very supportive, and relies on intensely
structured classes that just further intimidate
me. I also feel that my school doesn't have an
adequate science program, and that it would not
prepare me enough for more intense college programs.
I enjoy science, and am curious about everything
in my environment around me that I want to learn
more about. But I was deterred from taking an
advanced Chemistry course this year because my
teacher didn't know what he was talking about,
and on top of that had sexually harassed other
women in my class. My school's only reason for
not firing him is because they can't get another
chemistry teacher, which is the most ridiculous
thing I've ever heard in the world. I wasn't about
to put myself in an unproductive and potentially
dangerous learning environment like that, but
at the same time I regret that it has hurt my
future in a science field by not taking advantage
of the opportunity.
English teacher is putting pressure on me to take
more literature courses, which I don't mind, but
I since I'm so confused about what I want to do
it makes it hard for me to be sure about anything.
I know that most people lack direction about what
they want to do, especially at my age, but I'm
afraid of making the wrong decision.
was wondering if you could offer any advice to
me (even though I know the decision ultimately
depends on me). Do you know any resources about
interested high school women like me who want
to pursue careers in science and technology that
might give me some more confidence in my abilities?
I know that I shouldn't feel inferior, but sometimes
I just do for no reason at all, but I've talked
to peers who have had the same experiences as
me....Thank you for your time!
32, I can say that that confusion doesn't always
dissipate, but at a certain moment you just realize
that you are on a certain path. Throughout my
junior and senior high school career and into
college, I pursued and excelled at math and sciences
-- and like you I had to face the constant questioning
of my interest. In my senior year I took physics
honors and was the only girl in the class and
was constantly dissuaded from pursuing it -- the
teacher kept asking me if I was sure I wanted
to stick with it -- and I did and even eventually
won the physics honors award. So, I'm glad that
I got to prove him wrong. I certainly think that
you should stick with it, but that's my bias,
because I'm sometimes angry that I didn't stick
with it. There are now several programs specifically
designated for girls and women who want to pursue
engineering paths and/or non-traditionally female
classes. For instance, Smith College has a women's
engineering school -- and there are two high schools
in CA that focus on engineering and sciences and
are solely for girls. So you certainly aren't
the only person who is exploring this. I suggest
that you look at the Smith program as they also
offer summer programs for high school students.
I hope that helps lead you in the right direction
and selfishly, I hope that you stick with it.