Inspiring the next generation of female engineers | Debbie Sterling | TEDxPSU

Inspiring the next generation of female engineers | Debbie Sterling | TEDxPSU


Translator: Moe Shoji
Reviewer: Ivana Korom I’d like you all to close your eyes. Closed? Okay. Now, you can’t see me right now, but I’m actually riding a unicycle,
juggling hundreds of balls. (Laughter) No, keep your eyes closed, though. It’s really great. But okay. So close your eyes,
and picture an engineer. Everyone got a picture in their head? Nod. Okay. Open your eyes. Raise your hand if you pictured a guy
sitting alone at a computer. Okay. Maybe kind of nerdy,
pocket protector. Raise your hand if you pictured
a train driver. (Laughter) That’s a lot of hands. Raise your hand if you pictured a young guy in a hoodie, maybe looks a little
like Mark Zuckerberg perhaps. Raise your hand if you pictured someone
who looks like me. Okay. Not a lot of hands. Well, if you didn’t raise your hand for me, I would like you to please
get up and leave. (Laughter) No, just kidding. If you didn’t raise your hand for me,
it’s all right. I get it all the time. Usually when I tell people
I’m an engineer, they look at me and they say, “Ha! No, really, what do you do?” or they look at me and say, “Oh, whoa, you must be
some kind of genius” or my favorite is when I told my mother I wanted to major in engineering, she said, “Eww, why?” (Laughter) The truth is I’m a female engineer,
and I’m a minority. Only 11 percent of engineers
in the U.S. are women. So why does this matter?
Why do we care? So what. Let’s just have the men
do all the engineering. Well, engineers are making
some of the biggest advances in our society. They’re solving things
like global warming, making medical breakthroughs, some of the biggest technologies
that are changing our lives. These are things that we use every day
as people that make our lives better. And with half the population being female, we deserve to have the female perspective. It will only get better
with the female perspective. But today engineering
really is a boys’ club, and I don’t fit in. But I’m here today to share my story about how I discovered a passion
for engineering, and I’m here to make a bold claim: I don’t fit in, but I believe that our little girls will. So this is me when I was a little girl,
age six. I was a pretty normal kid. I loved ballet and drawing and riding bikes. I grew up in a small town
in Rhode Island, age six. Coincidentally,
this is around the age where most girls start to lose an interest in math
and science, this young. And it’s interesting,
some people think, “Well, biologically maybe girls just
aren’t as good as those subjects and that’s just the way it is,
you can’t fight nature.” Well, there was a study
done very recently across 65 countries
around the world where they tested boys and girls
on the same science test. Around the world the girls
out-performed the boys, but not in the U.S. What the study suggests
is that it’s not a biological thing. This is a cultural thing. And this is our culture. This is what we grew up in as girls. The toy aisle, the perfect example
of our culture, where we are taught from a very young age that we want to become princesses. I remember when I was a little girl,
adults would pat me on the head — well, actually I come
from a Jewish family; so they would grab me by the punim
and say, “Debbie, you are so smart, good for you.” And I remember as a little girl
being so disappointed, wishing that they told me I was pretty. I wanted to be pretty,
I didn’t want to be smart. And by the time my senior year
of high school rolled around, I was applying to college, and I asked my math teacher to write my recommendation letter. She said, “Okay, Debbie,
what do you plan to major in? I will write it in the letter.” And I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “How about engineering? I think you would really excel in it.” And I thought, engineering. I closed my eyes — and I pictured a train driver. (Laughter) I had no idea what engineering was, and I was way too embarrassed to ask her. I didn’t want to sound stupid. But I thought, “Ugh, no way,
eww, engineering. That’s for boys.
It’s intimidating and boring. And why would she ever think
that a creative, artistic girl like me would ever like engineering. No way.” But I went off to Stanford,
which was a big deal. In my high school they actually
announced it over the loud speaker. (Laughter) And when I got to Stanford
my freshman year, I had no idea what to major in. And that message
that that math teacher had said, “Engineering, you should give it a try,” it stuck in my head. And so I thought, what the heck, I’m going to take ME101,
just give it a try because I couldn’t shake that advice
that she had given me. And I was so worried
that it was going to be my first F. I was terrified, but I went into the class and in that class I finally learned what engineering really was. And to my surprise, we weren’t fixing train engines. In that class we got to invent and design things. We had assignments like
make a catapult out of a soda bottle and a piece of string and five paper clips
and a piece of foam core. It was so cool and so much fun. And in that class,
I learned that engineering is really the skill set to build
anything you dream up in your head, whether it’s a website or a mobile app, to a bridge, to a highway, anything. That’s what engineers build. And what an amazing skill set. How empowering to be able
to build whatever you want. But the problem was I felt kind of alone. I was always one of a handful of girls in my classes, and I did not fit in. In fact, only 20 percent of undergraduate degrees in engineering and tech and science
are awarded to women so it’s a real problem. But I stuck with it. I loved the major, and I wanted to do it. That is, until I took
an engineering drawing class. This was about halfway through my major and I thought engineering and drawing, this is going to be great. I love art. Finally, I’m going to get to draw. The problem was
in this class you had to draw in perspective, draw in 3-D and for some reason I had this
total mental block. I was really struggling
with the material. And our final assignment
we had to put our drawings up on the wall for critique. And you could tell, all the guys
in the class — there were about 80 of them
and five of us girls — the guys had scribbled their drawing
ten minutes before and slapped it up on the wall. Meanwhile, I had spent hours
the entire weekend. I didn’t even go to any parties,
working on my drawing. And when the professors
went around the room and they got to my drawing,
they took a look at it and they looked out into the room. And they said,
“Raise your hand if you think
Debbie should pass this class.” And I just stood there beet red,
humiliated, looking around. Some people are kind of
half raising their hands. I was horrified. And they’re like,
“Come on, raise your hand if you think
Debbie should pass the class.” The room was silent. Finally, my good friend piped up and said, “How dare you? How dare you humiliate her
in front of this room. She, obviously,
has put a lot of effort in; and it’s your responsibility to teach her,
not to make fun of her.” Well, I’m glad he said that,
but even still, the tears were streaming down my face. And I ran out of the classroom
and I thought, this isn’t for me. I’m not naturally good at this stuff, maybe I should just give up engineering. A lot of girls around this time in their college career
think the same thing. But my friend came out, and he said, “Debbie, don’t give up. You can do it, and I’ll help you. We just have to work hard together. You’ll pick up this stuff.
I know you will. So him and I used to go
from that moment on to the library. And sometimes we’ll be there
until three, four in the morning studying. And in that library I saw all of those guys from my classes, the guys who I thought just knew it
and it was so easy for them. They it were there
at the library at three in the morning. I caught them. (Laughter) And I realized that it’s not about
being a born genius, it’s about how hard you work. This stuff takes a lot of work. But I worked really hard,
and I re-did that drawing and I earned my degree. Years later I did some research
into this stuff, and I actually learned
that I was at a disadvantage. Like a lot of other girls, I had underdeveloped spatial skills. The other interesting thing
that I learned is that kids who score better on spatial skills tests grew up playing with construction toys. Well, I thought isn’t this a shame. Me and my little sister growing up, our parents never bought us
Legos or erector sets or Lincoln logs. We all thought that those were boys toys. I thought, those toys have been
marketed to boys for over a hundred years. And they get them interested
in math and science. Meanwhile, all we get are
the dolls and makeup kits and it’s not fair. So I thought, well,
I’m an engineer now. I have a degree. I can make anything I want now. I’m going to make
an engineering toy for girls, and I’m going to give them the opportunity that I didn’t have
so that they can discover a passion for engineering
much earlier than I did. So I got to work. I quit my job and I worked
out of my apartment for months, making a prototype out of thread spools and wooden dowels, pieces I could find
from the hardware store. I wanted to find a way to help girls
develop their spatial skills. I did all of this research. I met with little girls, and I found something really interesting. I’d buy construction toys and watch them play with them to see how they could be improved and time and time again the girls
would get bored with the toys. And so I would say,
“Well, what is your favorite toy?” And they would run upstairs and they would bring back down a book and they’d say, “I love reading. Let’s read together.” So I came up with a really simple
“aha” idea: What if I put those two things together. Spatial plus verbal, a construction set plus stories. And what if those stories
were about a girl engineer character named Goldie Blocks. And as she goes on adventures, she solves problems
by building simple machines. And so the girls read along,
and they get to build with Goldie and it would bring in a role model, and it would bring in the narrative that they so loved. I made this prototype, and I went around the Bay Area testing it on hundreds of kids; and it worked. I had little girls in tutus building belt drives. (Laughter) It was awesome. And I knew I was on to something. So I had all of these
ram shackled prototypes in my apartment; and I’ve been working for months
like a hermit, not showering. And a friend of mine said, “Debbie, do you want
to take this to the next level? Do you trust me?” I said, “Yeah, yeah.”
“Do you trust me?” I’m like, “Okay.
We’re not in a movie. What are you talking about?” He said: “You need to apply to this tech accelerator program.” It is the most elite program
in Silicon Valley. All the top engineers around the world vie for a position in this program. You need to apply.” So I applied, and I got in to the big interview day. And I walked into a room
of Mark Zuckerburgs sitting there on their computers. Meanwhile, me walking in, the chick with the physical prototype. And I had a napkin over it because,
obviously, I had to protect my intellectual property. (Laughter) And so I’m walking in there and gosh, do I not fit in. And one of the guys pipes up and says, “Oh, did you bring us cookies?” (Laughter) Well, my confidence was pretty shot; and needless to say, I didn’t get into the accelerator. They didn’t understand
why on earth I would add a book. So, they didn’t get it. But I didn’t give up. So I brought my prototype
to the New York toy fair. It’s the international biggest
toy show in the U.S. And I thought, okay, this is it.
I’m going to go. I’m going to show toy industry veterans. I’m going to talk to store owners
and see what they have to say about my engineering toy for girls. And I walked in there thinking
toy fair is going to be awesome. There’s going to be
all these creative types, mad scientists, kids running around, it’s going to be so cool. It was a bunch of old men in suits. I don’t fit in. Come on. I got through engineering, and now this? So I showed people my prototype; and they all kind of
looked at me with pity. And they whispered me a well-known industry secret: construction toys for girls don’t sell. And they took my by the arm, and they showed me what does sell,
the pink aisle. And they said this is the way it is and so we’ve come full circle. And I felt pretty dejected
after that toy fair, but I wasn’t willing to give up. Just because this is the way things are, doesn’t mean it’s how they have to be. And so I took my prototype. I partnered with a factory, and I turned it into a real toy. The thing was the factory
minimum order was 5,000 toys and with all of this rejection, I didn’t know
if people were going to want it; so I put it up on Kickstarter. I had a goal of raising $150,000 in 30 days to make this toy a reality. I hit go. I crossed my fingers, and I hit my goal in four days. (Applause) And our minimum production, it didn’t end up being 5,000 units. It ended up being over 20,000. I had stores calling
from all over the world saying, “My customers are coming in,
they want Goldie Blocks. What is this Goldie Blocks?” I had parents calling in saying, “Yes, my daughter is more
than just a princess.” (Laughter) I had the press writing articles
all about it. The world was waiting for this. They wanted this. The toy industry had it wrong. Yeah, sure, some girls like princesses and tiaras, and I like that stuff too, but there’s so much more to us than that. There’s so much potential. And for me, I couldn’t be more happy to be putting my engineering skills
into this product because it leverages not only
the math and science that I worked so hard to learn, but also leverages my creativity. And engineering is such a creative thing, and I never knew it. And it’s so fun for me
to get to use my creative voice and my artistic skills
as a part of engineering. And it’s so important that we include that perspective. And the other thing
that’s so great about it is engineering is for people. We’re designing things for people. So how fun for me to get to spend my time playing and learning with little girls and understanding what their needs are and designing things for them. It couldn’t be more rewarding. Our toys are now hitting
the doorsteps of thousands of girls around the world. I just got an email from a mom who said, “We love playing
Goldie Blocks. My four and a half year old,
halfway through the game looked at me and said,
“Mommy, am I an engineer?” And her mom said, “Yes, sweetie,
you can be. You can be anything.” For so long, for so many years, I felt like I didn’t fit in but now I feel like I belong here. I feel like I belong,
and our little girls do too. Thank you. (Applause)

Comments

  1. Post
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    Gazi Nazia Nur

    Even though mine is a third world country, our girls at least get the opportunity to fit in as engineers and actually do better than guys. Though bogged down in many problems, it gives a positive vibe that someday we will improve as a nation.

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    sumaiya ahsan

    this hit home….i can't control my tears..

    i always wanted to be a princess when i was a little girl but i also wanted to be someone who would invent new things(specially toys) but now when i'm half way through my degree i feel the same way you did, "i don't fit in".

    thank you for this speech, very inspiring.
    i won't give up!

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    Daddy Pig

    BUT let’s not forget, most women don’t want to become engineers. Most women have more paternal wants for their careers. It’s so important to inspire women who want to follow engineering. But it’s also so important to not put down other women who want to take on more typically female roles! It’s okay to be feminine!

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    Deshina Rajeswari Nanthakumar

    What an amazing talk from an amazing person. Human beings are more complex than what we Americans are giving women- and men alike- credit for. And it starts from an early age. As a substitute teacher I always try to make the girls understand that it's ok for me to dress feminine and like pink while also liking working hard and trying to be good at skills we aren't being encouraged towards.

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    ezekiel e

    Amazing talk! What a terrible professor to be so discouraging and daring to make fun of students-this really triggered me and reminded me of one of my former chemistry professors-so rude that everyone stayed quiet out of fear of her retaliating and giving bad grades.These people should NOT be teaching! I'm so glad Debbie didn't give up, and, just as importantly, is revolutionizing the world with her amazing ideas!

  9. Post
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    Chrys T

    In my country we get academic IDs that also give us lots of discounts and stuff, and once we have applied etc we have to go to a certain store in each city and get them. So, I went there and the girls who gave it to me were like "Yay, there are female electrical engineers" (in my country you choose your major before entering uni so it's visible in your ID) and they also told me they had asked some guys from my department if there are any girls there and these guys were like "psss no this is a serious and hard department, girl's aren't good enough" and so the girls were happy I was one. I'm sad there aren't as much women as men (it's like one to ten ratio) but more sad that people think those women who study engineering are geniuses, like ofc I'd like to be called a genius but I'm not, I'm just someone who loves this field. It's not hard for women to become engineers, and it's not "special" women who basically act like men that thrive in this field. I always accused society that girls don't follow engineering as much as boys do, but many people are telling me that they would have if they wanted to in this day and age…I know from personal experience they're actually kind of discouraged, but I also keep an open mind and think that there are girls who aren't into engineering and no one makes them choose whatever…but that sounds utopic

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    cosmic sloth

    I'm only finding this now but gosh is it a good time, not long ago I finally decided I want to be an environmental engineer and the stress is piling up as my A-levels are nearing and I'm having motivation issues. Also, I'm in no way a maths person but this really inspired me to work harder so I can get into an engineering program

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    Jessica Gonzales

    After watching this im convinced I have potential. I loved playing with my dads construction tools and building games. lol a bit too simple. Im watching this in 2019 because I'm studying IT in a class full of men . I don't want IT to be my end goal though but I do want the motivation to get through my first step. I have no idea where I'm gonna land lol.

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    Flo Wer

    that's the spirit i love ,girls are not meant to be nurses or doctors only they could be pilots they could be ship builders ,my sister is an engineer ,i've always wanted to be like her so now i'm studying computer science and my dream is to develop video games …because i love programming and i love games

  21. Post
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    Melody Kuroda

    I'm so thankful that growing up I had those construction toys to play with when I was young. It's amazing that you've inspired such young girls to become excited about building things and learning about engineering.

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    ninana143

    google: what is spatial ability? Answer: 5 page PDF in conclussion the things I can't do!! I have zero depht perspective now I know why!

  27. Post
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    Sweet Lollipop

    So the idea of this was that no matter what caste, religion, gender, creed you belong to, you can be anything. And whatever you do, it involves hardwork.

    And i play with blocks but I wanna be an author and football player. I feel engineering boring. So be whatever you (more than one career) and put ur opinion. Everyone has different perspective so you can put in ur opinions.

  28. Post
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    Iman Khan

    Never even occurred to me that it was a boys thing. Seriously had no idea. I might be studying chemical engineering next year and I’m very excited. Every person that I have told just wishes me luck or congratulated me and is not weirded out by it. This is the first time that I’m hearing that it’s more of a “boys” thing

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    Mahnoor Abbasi

    I am doing aerospace engineering. I am in my first year.Tbh I was a little doubtful but this video inspired me alot. Thanks ❤

  30. Post
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    Suzanna Antonia's

    I actually agree with her when she said it’s a cultural problem. There are countries where girls have a hard time being in STEM and countries where they are mostly completely fine. I personally grew up going to a math and physics based lyceum that was super hard to get into and we had about 5 or 6 boys in a class of 30 people. We had a blast and our gender was never an issue. I don’t know if it would be the same if we weren’t a majority but all the girls went on to become engineers , computer scientists and physicists and were completely fine in universities as well. And this is in Russia , a place that even we consider to be a little behind when it comes to equality. I would assume that USA would not have a problem like this that seems wore fitting to less developed countries.

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    maybe a procrastinator

    Her speech got me through the toughest parts of my engineering student life. I'll be graduating next semester and I'm super excited for what's to come!

  33. Post
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    LeeHyeon

    We should really ask why our little girls get so happy when they are praised ‘pretty’. Not only girls but grown ups too. This culture is wrong. Love your self eh? Why, isn’t it so easy for you boys? You don’t have to change what you are born with, but you just put little effort in your math tests, tada there you go. You are such better person now. But to girls, ‘pretty’ means much more than A+ on math tests. What made it like that huh?

  34. Post
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    Li Lo

    My mom's side of the family is strongly inclined towards numbers. I got the bug for it too but I turned to humanities out of pettiness. I feel like going back to school though, I used to be so good at it. Solving problems that no one gives you the solution to is definitely empowering

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    allsparkwars2

    Why can’t this happen naturally? Lots of Chinese and Indian engineers, but not too many American ones. No need for affirmative action or any artificial stuff. That just punishes the men. Everyone has a choice where they want to go

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    dragon slayer

    I would like to say that I watched this around a year ago and now I'm applying to do engineering in university. Thank you

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    Amanda Makabongwe

    If you'd told me 4 years ago, that I would study engineering, I would of laughed and cried, not because there's anything funny about it, I had just labelled myself as a DISAPPOINTMENT…I'm currently studying chemical engineering, it's challenging and interesting…but I'm often very afraid and constantly asking myself if I really have what it takes to do this. This video made me cry 🤧I'm so glad I watched it though.

  42. Post
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    zairah wedden merez

    bachelor of science in civil engineering currently on my sophomore year and tbh, i dont fit in and i am on the verge of giving up but hey thanks you have inspired me to do better and become the civil engineer i aspired to be!!

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    sara neziri

    Can I be honest? Idga single f what others think about me and am just learning that there aren't many women in the engineering field. It doesn't really trouble me one bit. My goal is to study it, not care whether someone else can picture me working on the field or not

  46. Post
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    Halle Nunes

    This is amazing. I found my passion for engineering with GoldieBlox. Boredom one night led me to this TED Talk and now it’s clear that whatever she’s doing is working.

  47. Post
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    Cosmonauteable

    Tell me, what do you think is the reason for this woman to be on this stage? Is it because she's a great engineer?

    Think deeply about this and then realize the flaws of your ideologies. If you can't, well, critical thinking really ain't your thing.

  48. Post
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    bhawna rajput

    I am also a proud engineer.
    And I feel If your story is not inspiring, I don't know what else will be!! I loved that sparkle in your eyes while you were narrating everything…More power to you 😊

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    dyg nur aqilah

    hi I just want to say this first year my semester 1 as bachelor mechanical engineering. my basic diploma are civil engineering. I feel lost with engineering and I want to change my career to human resources development. should I change or stay? I can't deny I kind love civil engineering but I hate engineering math & static physic

  51. Post
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    Nabila

    "Engineering is for people"

    I remember my intern days, the head of the department would always say "even your grandma is an engineer. She solves everything in her daily chores by her own. She uses logic. And that's engineering. Be like her. Dont just study books and pass the exams"

    And that quote impacts me right til this day 😀

  52. Post
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    Sabrina Islam

    Are most engineering classes filled with mostly men? I think physics and maths classes have same ratio from men to women. I can't choose whether I should study maths or physics lol

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    tay's got crown

    Astrophysics was my goal. The reason why I've been working on math so hard, after listing to this I wanna be an engineer

  57. Post
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    David Sims

    A walkway overpass bridge in Miami was built by female engineers with no arch, no central pillar, no suspension cables. No wonder it fell down and killed six people. Snopes and Factcheck tried to obfuscate the link between the female engineers and the collapse of the bridge by saying that the company they worked for had men on the board of directors. But that doesn't change the fact that it was WOMEN who were trusted to do the calculations about load-bearing strength, weight distribution, resonances, torques, and so on, and they either botched the math or else just didn't bother doing it. Male engineers don't have any problem with this, so what's up with the female ones?

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    Zero Animations

    To be honest the beginning made my feel worse I never thought of a engineering being a sad person working a train for 14 hours shifts I Imagined a badass person from something like braking bad building a cool car

  63. Post
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    Dohn Joe

    9:52 I'm an engineer now, I have a degree, I can make anything I want now. I'M GOING TO MAKE AN ENGINEERING TOY FOR GIRLS''…..

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    realperson.dll

    Just realize that woman are treated differently in these fields. You are given a lot more slack for your fuckups than your male counterparts.

  66. Post
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    RoyalVitya

    I can't thank you enough Debbie for this talk
    I had the luck of being able to play with not just "girl" toys, even though I enjoyed some of them I wanted to play with cars, Legos, and other "boy" games that belonged to my male cousin
    My parents never really bought me any "boy" toys though
    I'm Latina and people here are really conservative
    So I'm glad to know about women standing up against this stereotypes
    And I hope I'll be an example in the future too

  67. Post
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    VEN

    Before my exams i watched this for some motivation to achieve my dream and today i got excepted in civil engineering college 😭🖤

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    Raya Cook

    This video made me cry, and as I looked through the comment section I began to cry even more. As a first year female engineering student from the United States, I resonate with Debbie on a deep level. Of course, it is 2019 and there is a more inclusive attitude in STEM nowadays, but that has not yet remedied the systemic discouragement that I experienced as a child. Some of my happiest memories are of the creations I made with things that I found outside or around the house, but some of my saddest memories are of peers and authority figures stopping me in my tracks and steering me towards a more traditionally feminine path. Up until 2.5 years ago, I thought I would be a freelance artist because I felt a passion for creativity but never had the encouragement to give it a direction. That all changed with the help of a couple amazing teachers that both challenged and inspired me, but most importantly, treated me like any other student- not just a girl. I struggle with math, but that does NOT mean I will always struggle. Debbie strikes a profound point in her speech when she says that it's not about how smart you are, it's about how hard you work. No one is born an engineer, and no one grows up the same way. No matter where you come from, who you are, or how little you have, you will always have the potential to move forward.

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    Nyasha Kachidza

    thanks Debbie for being an inspiration, l'm a first year Mining Engineering student,,,
    l spend the whole night awake trying to do Engineering drawing assignments, its difficult for me to develop a 3-D from isometric views kkkkk, but l was happy when you said you didn't give up and you got your degree…am so inspired l know l can also do it if you did…

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    Hallie J

    I want you to know that I watched this video when I was ten years old right when it came out. I have never been more grateful for a video. Since I watched this I have changed my entire trajectory. All of my goals and everything I spend my time on is to become an engineer. I am now a Junior in high school and I have been on a robotics team for 5 years. I spend my time teaching other people about engineering and doing outreach events to inspire young kids to go into STEM. I am in a Pre-Engineering program. I created a STEAM event to teach kids how art and STEM are related. I have done all of this because of this single video. All the time and energy that I have put in I did because of this video. Thank you so much you gave me a passion I didn't know I had and it has changed my entire life. I know you won't see this but I feel in debt to you and I needed to thank you.

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    Jana peaches

    One of my teachers (male) in 7th grade told me that he sees me as an engineer in the future. That was pretty encouraging

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    Michael Hansen

    Glad I pictured Jeri Ellsworth poking an oscilloscope probe around in her Tilt5 prototype, instead of the dude in the tie.

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    Naolin Torres

    Yo quiero ser ingeniera en bioquímica pero las personas que conozco dicen que no soy lo suficientemente inteligente para lograrlo porque me costaría demasiado. Dicen que tal vez me cueste trabajo encontrar un lugar donde pueda desarrollarme y vivir al mismo tiempo. Tal vez termine siendo profesora o algo diferente a lo que quiero. Pero me encantaría que alguna ingeniera pudiera orientarme en esa parte de desenvolverte y dejar de tener miedo porque todo lo que he amado en mi vida son las ciencias y entender el porqué de todo en este mundo

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    Kevin Bradshaw_exe

    Guys, PAUSE.
    We shouldn't be pushing for women in engineering for the sake of "women." Engineers are people that have an analytical mind, are problem-solvers, have strong pattern-recognition, and other skills. While there is certainly creativity, these other attributes are also important and should be mentioned.
    To be good in anything, you must have the mentality for such a task. It doesn't matter how much textbook knowledge you got. Practical experience is far more valuable than textbook college. College failed me here. If you can't think like an engineer, you're only a burden to everyone else.

    I work as a software engineer, and I see a lot of women "engineers" around. I have tried very hard to mentor these people to attain the engineering mindset, but they just can't attain it in reasonable time. Is it impossible? No. But the amount of hard work, effort, and time required would be too great. They pay us to build solutions and solve problems, not to have people stuck in 'training' for over a year.

    I see some women that are exceptions, that are a bit more masculine and have the engineering mindset. But they are rare, and should be treated as exceptions, not the rule.

    It is not 'cultural' that men are typically in positions of science and engineering. Just look throughout the history of humanity. Societies always change throughout time, but our biology stays relatively the same.

    If you want to become an engineer, you must ask yourself, "Is this who I am? Do I possess the mentality of an engineer?" It should never be because of, "what society wants" You'll only find yourself miserable, if you do not understand yourself as a person.

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    Gary Wohlgeschaffen

    What an inspiring talk – not just for engineers or aspiring engineers, but for anyone who dreams of doing something that interests them. Thanks, Debbie. It can be done!

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    sangeeta seervi

    after watching this felt that i had not done anything wrong by doing engineering .. the thing is i am not able to find the way where i fit in..

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    Julia Smit

    This is so inspirational, thanks! I was in doubt whereas I would be able to do such an intimidating course, but she just made me believe in myself. Achieving a skill set to build anything I want… that's my goal!!!

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    WaReX Gamer

    In my country there is no big discrimination against women pursuing degree , in my country women are actually encourage to pursue STEM related fields especially Nursing

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    TimTam Adventures

    I’m a female marine engineer ( and also graduated from a naval academy with a rank of 2nd Lieutenant- Reservist) and I used to work as a third mechanic engineer onboard very large crude oil tanker vessels, i quit being a sailor due to pirate attack and now i work as a technical manager for one of the most prominent engine company building ship engines, up to this point,I am still belittled and time and time again being challenged for my capability, many times I thought of giving up,up and downs of depression and everyday up to this point,every morning when I wake up,i tell myself, don’t give up! Someday, things will be better. Believe in yourself and be kind!

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    Shiva Summer Ahmadiardebilipour

    I grew up being supported by my chemical engineer father that taught me math with so much joy and love, and so I became an Electrical Engineer. Once I started working, I realized not all men are as supportive as my father because of our society that's being influenced for the wrong future!

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