COLUMN, Rina Manjrekar,

Mind the Gap

Last week the world celebrated International Women’s Day, 2021. Now, I will be honest here, I am not big on these days. I have never believed you need a day to celebrate a person or relationship, especially not celebrate equality: a basic human right. Celebrations are for what’s out of the ordinary, right?

Yet this year, it was a bit different. I could not help but feel a certain sense of pride being a woman in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering en Mathematics) field. You see the gender gap that everyone has fought so passionately to overcome, is still blatantly obvious in the STEM fields.

Growing up, women around the world have beauty queens, stellar artists, caregivers and star athletes to look up to. However, if you are interested in STEM this is rare. Rarer still if it is corporate STEM. While I bow my head in gratitude and awe to the women who have made it here, they are not as easy to come by and hardly ever highlighted in mass media.
As a 15-something-year old girl who wanted to become an engineer it was frightening, having the constant reminder that perhaps this field is not for me. The misgivings that perhaps, I ought to take up marketing. Or nursing. Or pretty much anything more stereotypically ‘feminine’ than something scientifical or technological, something beta.

Yesterday, for the first time in years, the gap stared back at me. The only difference is, one step away from graduation in Mechatronics, it did not intimidate me anymore. I realized I am going to make it, and while I am not shattering any glass ceiling, I hope I am able to wave the white flag for other girls wanting to make their way here. I hope all women around me in STEM today think of the efforts we have taken to come this far. And how our hard work makes it easier for the women from here on out.

I am positive, slowly but surely, we would not have to warn another 15-something-year-old girl with an engineering dream to mind the gap!

Rina Manjrekar (22) is an international student in the final year of her study Mechatronics at Fontys School of Engineering. She moved to the Netherlands four years ago from Malaysia. Here you can find her earlier columns for Bron.

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