Montana: Nina Begay was one of only 24 students in her college graduating class. Today, the Navajo woman is among the 1% of Native women in STEM fields (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math.)
Begay is mechanical design professional with R. Raytheon in Tuscon Arizon. R. Raytheon employes 300 Natives out of 12,000 people, most of whom are male. However, Nina has made many friends with Native women in the STEM fields through IWSN [Indigenous Women in Science Network.] Begay and two other women wrote the organization’s bylaws.
IWSN is a national organization formed in 2008. It currently has about 30 members who are either professional women or college students. No one pays dues or membership fees. Begay says that while you may not see your colleagues at work, IWSN enables you to reach out to them and have someone to share your thoughts and ideas with.
Charlotte Logan is a
molecular and cellular
biology doctoral student.
She joined IWSN when it held
it first meeting at the
AISES (American Indian Science &
Skaruianewa currently attends Brandeis
University in Boston.
Begay has always had a knack for math and received much support from her teachers. But she was lucky. Statistics say that most women studying STEM subjects receive less attention and encouragement than boys. Women who are college freshman in STEM fields often drop out. And a lack of role models keeps them from taking advanced science classes beyond high school.
Logan agrees. Logan says her peers with children are able to succeed by relying on a partner or family member to care for the children while they work or study. Those are the women she sees as being most successful.
Logan also listens to other members share how they balance family, work and culture. Even with her own 10-hour days and long hours of study, she makes time to nurture her relationships. And on weekends, Skaruianewah often drives back to New York to spend time with family and attend ceremonies.
"I feel like this has given me incredible strength and balance," she said.
organizing an outreach
program that targets Native
youth. They hope to generate
a childhood interest in
science and related fields.
Find IWSNon Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111317156184&v=wall&viewas=0