Women should pursue the jobs they’re truly passionate about

Graphic by Alan Li

When I was in grade 11, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do in my academics.

In grade 10, I had taken grade 11 functions and physics in the same semester. I was good at math, and physics came naturally to me.

But after this escapade into grade levels beyond my own, I traded my calculator for a world map and a novel.

I was the only one in my friend group that was planning to go into the social sciences and humanities, but the discontent over my decision went beyond fellow scared and nerdy high-school students.

My teachers were floored.

“Why aren’t you continuing with math? There aren’t enough women in STEM!”

I held that guilt that they placed on me right up until this week.

I was a woman that could probably do well in a STEM career, and probably would have had no problem getting into whatever program I wanted to for university.

It felt like I was just doing what society expected of me as a woman — an arts degree.

Did you know that women were not widely accepted historians in the 20th century? There was such a small number of female historians that it made my HI398 class members’ heads spin.

Mine too.

And I realized that I didn’t make a choice for the system — in choosing education, and in choosing to be successful in that education, I made a choice against the system entirely.

With all that’s coming out in the last few weeks, maybe, just maybe, we’re entering a renaissance of empowerment; an age where women can be recognized for their ambitions and their abilities.

The truth is that women are lacking everywhere. It’s not just STEM that needs female representation, it’s every aspect of our lives.

The trades are lacking in females and still hiring faster than schools can keep up. It doesn’t take long watching CNBC to see that the number of men on the trading floor far outnumber the women.

I could write a feature length article, and beyond just on examples off of the top of my head, and that’s entirely my point.

Women are interested in all different kinds of things, so we should see representation in all of those fields.

And, by all means – contrary to common stereotypes – you are allowed to be good at more than one thing. One of my favourite professors double majored in physics and film studies in her undergrad.

Diversifying your skill set is never going to be a weakness.

The only way we’re going to have strong representation in the workforce is if we are encouraging women to do whatever they want to do.

If we have strong, empowered young women who love what they do, they will thrive in whatever discipline they choose.

Girl, be a CEO. Go be Prime Minister. Or go be a stay-at-home parent.

Each of us deserves to be happy, regardless of what people think we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives.

If you’re not enjoying physics as much as English in high school, you’re probably not going to magically flip a switch when you get to the working world. If you’re getting way higher grades in business than you are in computer science, you may just be more suited to that.

We will create a society around successful women once we allow women their own choices to be successful and give them room to grow.

With all that’s coming out in the last few weeks, maybe, just maybe, we’re entering a renaissance of empowerment; an age where women can be recognized for their ambitions and their abilities.

I can’t wait for the day where seeing a woman in physics is no less surprising than seeing women studying English or choosing to be stay-at-home parents.

We need women everywhere, but first we need to stop this idea of “filling the gaps.”

I guarantee that women will fill them organically given the chance.

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