As the Executive Producer of Professional Geek Podcast, I was thrilled to bring on Jessie Link as a guest not only because she has one of the coolest, most inspiring geeky jobs out there, but also because she is a fellow graduate of an all women’s college. I felt compelled to share my experience in a blog.
Women are raised with gender expectations and norms that affect us in and out of the classroom: we are traditionally raised with lower self esteem brought on by both social norms and our peers, we are lead to believe at an early age that our value is in our beauty and not our brains, and we are often assumed incapable of pursuing a STEM education and career. So something unique happens when, as a woman*, you enter an all-female educational environment.
When you’ve spent 18 or more years learning in a world with a lack of intellectual self esteem, it’s hard to immediately come out of your shell. But shortly after entering a women’s college, you allow your preconceived notions of gender roles to drop away. At first this transition is in stark contrast to what you’ve done before: Men no longer interrupt you, you can workshop an idea without fear of dismissal, and you can confront your peers about their intellectual curiosity freely and without aggression.
Going to college is a coming of age experience of self realization; it’s rare that a person walks out of college as the same person that went in. College is where you develop work ethic and communicative/collaborative skills, and where you learn to evaluate goals for the rest of your life. When you go to an all women’s college, you have an enormous opportunity to walk out as a brand new person uninhibited by gender norms and ready to take on the world with a stronger sense of self.
* At Professional Geek Podcast we understand that not all women are cisgendered, but for the purpose of this article we are discussing my personal experience at an all women's college, which is primarily cisgendered.