Amira, Coordinator for the YaLa Project
Why it is important for women in scientific fields not to give up
When I first applied for my Bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging at Al Quds University, I was honestly taken aback by the number of females majoring in the scientific field. I was under the impression that the field was over filled with the male community given the fact that some females are encouraged to take a different path due to various reasons. I am unable to forget the ridiculous advice some people gave me when I was younger. They would say something under the lines of “teaching is the best field a girl could ask for, you leave and come back with the kids. Enough time to clean and cook” or “what would a pretty girl like you do in the scientific field” and so much worse. I thankfully gave no attention to their comments and followed my passion.
My class includes 42 students, almost 30 of them are young women. As we progressed with our education however, that number unfortunately dropped. I came to the conclusion that most of them found the profession to be too time consuming and that they couldn’t balance both their future home and professional lives at the same time. I personally do not find that to be an excuse. In order to become the best in something one must invest her time in it. I cannot stress enough how much science needs us. We live in a breathtaking place, and deserve to explore it.
“Nothing in the world is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less” -Marie Curie
These are the words of the first female to this date to win two Nobel Prizes in different fields, chemistry and physics. She is also one of the reasons I pursued my chosen career. We have Marie and many others to thank for not only their amazing contribution to the world of science but also for going against their society’s beliefs and setting an example of what we are capable of achieving.
I would like to conclude by giving my readers some words of wisdom that will hopefully help and encourage you in the future. Firstly, do not be afraid of the word “no”. Doors will be slammed in your face whether you like it or not but you do decide which one of those doors you want knock down. No one invited Mae Carol Jemison to be the first black woman to travel into space, she had to fight for that title. Secondly, people are going to underestimate you unless you prove them otherwise. Lastly, believe in yourself and run the extra mile. You are one idea away from being the next scientific breakthrough.
Amira is an alumni of and a coordinator for the YaLa Young Leaders project, which aims to encourage leadership and free speech in the Middle East and North Africa.