jump to navigation

Write a “Letter to my Young Self” February 1, 2010

Posted by Connie Chow in Executive Director Musings, women in science.
Tags: , , , ,

In preparation for Women’s History Month in March, we are extending an invitation to women in science/engineering/technology to contribute to a guest blog series. We are looking for women from diverse fields and backgrounds, in different stages of their career, and who are using science/engineering/technology in different ways.

There are several goals to this project: A) to raise the profile of women in STEM who are still alive; B) to challenge the stereotypes about who does science and the one that those who love the sciences are “geeks”; C) to provide inspiration and comfort for younger women who may be on track to do science, as well as those who may have never thought about it; and D) to enlarge the public’s imagination through the breadth of work (across & between disciplines of STEM, and sectors) that women trained in STEM currently engage in (primarily through the bios).

Letter to...You may have been invited to career panels, been sought out as mentors; you have probably opined, rejoiced and cried over beer or wine about your careers, your life, and the balance thereof. I hope that the advice and wisdom learned from the variety of paths you have taken, the hard choices you’ve had to make, as well as the wonders you’ve experienced, will form a rich tapestry, personally and collectively, that would not only be useful to others, but hopefully sustain you as well.

There is no particular format as each letter to be unique. It should be limited to 800 words. (Videos , audio podcasts or animations are also welcome if that’s your preferred medium). Nor is there specific content that I’m looking for. Addressing the letter to a specific period of your life might help individual readers relate. Specific descriptions would generally be more powerful and authentic than general advice. Your thoughts does not have to be limited to your scientific journey or career choice, since that’s only part of who you are. We would love to have a picture or other visual representation of your younger self to go with the blog, as well as a “public” friendly bio. A link would do if there’s one.

Deadline. We prefer to have most submissions by Feb 28th. The second deadline is March 15. If you have major grants due or other major events in your life that prevent you from meeting these deadlines, but would still like to participate, please let us know. We would like to continue posting these letters through May.

The idea of this series is of course not entirely original. There’s Stephen Fry’s poignant letter to his 16-year-old self (http://tiny.cc/lAMvm), Ellen Spragyn’s “If I’d Known Then”, and this “Letter to Our Daughters” Project (http://tiny.cc/l5DzM ), where women scientists write to aspiring ones. And the movement to “humanize” scientists is being beautifully and skillfully implemented by PBS’ “Secret Lives of Scientists” (http://tiny.cc/AnBl2), and Science House (http://tiny.cc/C3ulX). And we all know that the public can hardly name any living scientists/engineers, let alone female ones. See this video intro on Women in Science by talkingscience.

In the longer term, and subject to editorial decisions, we hope to have your permission to publish your letter, accompanied by a short interview or write-up about you and your work, in a book that would benefit Science Club for Girls.

We sincerely hope you would be willing to share the gift of yourself. Please forward this to anyone whom you think would make a great contributor.




1. GED - February 15, 2010

Connie, this is a beautiful idea. Well presented and documented, too.

Would you consider opening this effort to men? It will help you get what you want: more serendipity = greater likelihood of desired results. How about allowing men to blog about women and fellow female students in education and the sciences who changed the arc of their lives as boys or young men? Or allow us men to write a letter to girls who remind us of ourselves. What’s important is fanning the spark of the emotional connection. Men have them, too! ; )


Connie Chow - February 21, 2010


That’s an interesting suggestion. Probably won’t open this up to men this round, but you prompt me to think of a second series for May, around Mother’s Day. Would you be willing to contribute?


2. Connie Chow - February 21, 2010

Who’s blogging?

Here are a few of the wonderful women who will contribute a letter.

Debra Auguste, Harvard
Anna Dietrich, Terrafugia
Debbie Chachra, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
Laura Forest, Draper Labs
Lynda Jordan
Erin Lavik, Yale
Ronnie Moffa, IBM
Ishara Mills, MIT

more to come

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: