Meet the Born Seekers: Q&A with Amanda Martinez
We recently sat down with diversity coach and mentor, Amanda Martinez, as part of our Born Seekers campaign.
Q: Tell us about your organization and what you are doing to break barriers on a daily basis.
We’re trying to break barriers by ensuring that students in marginalized communities have both access to and an opportunity for STEM education and programming. They’re lucky these days if they have a fully integrated science and math program. What we’re trying to do is make sure that at a young age, starting in kindergarten, that we’re starting that pipeline of STEM education to help bring them through high school graduation and beyond. We then collaborate with other organizations that can either bring them off to college so they can study STEM-oriented types of majors and/or introduce what vocational programs may be available in their communities.
Q: What barriers are you finding with young girls in STEM education?
What we’re finding as barriers for young girls in STEM education or continuing their STEM education is just from a gender role and/or a cultural role: their expectations or responsibilities are established as soon as they’re born. For example, well, you might cook. You might raise a family. It’s not about education. It’s not about being an astronaut or an astrophysicist. So, what we’re trying to do is make sure that we identify programs and if they aren’t available, then we create programs that girls will be attracted to so they can participate.
Further from that, as they continue to grow, do they have people who are STEM mentors? Do they have a scientist or a physicist or do we have those “hidden figure” mentors in front of them and they know that yes, it is possible to continue? But that has to start from when they’re born, continue through graduating high school and then having someone mentoring them through college or a vocation and then throughout their careers.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who are at the high school or college level of their career?
The advice I would give young women is number one, participate.
Find those STEM-related classes in school. So, that could be taking an extra science class or taking a math class. Math not your thing? Get a math tutor. It’s very valuable. But there are other STEM-oriented programs that are available in school. Participate in those as well. Number two, find a mentor. They’re around you. There’s a teacher, a guidance counselor, another parent or someone in the community who if you ask, most likely they’re going to say yes. And number three, be confident. Believe in yourself. You can do this and forge ahead. Go and be great.