Written By Natalie Torres, Author of Financially Savvy
The ever-growing need for women to pursue careers within the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) field only persists. If women pursue more careers in STEM, this not only helps close the gender wage gap, but also provides benefits like those of learning dual languages. By learning another language, or by pursuing a major in the sciences, your child can increase confidence, develop more of a connection and understanding with others from different cultures, and teach valuable skills in problem solving.
My father used to say, “I expect you to have an education, a career, and accomplish some big dreams of your own before settling down.” Hearing this as a girl allowed me to dream big, have limitless goals and pursue what I wanted in my career.
Women who pursue STEM majors not only put themselves on a path to better paying jobs, but also learn skills to solve global economic problems. Take Cristina Simon , who became the first Mexican American women to work for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) as a system engineer. If you recall the movie Contact with Jodie Foster and the major satellites, this is the location where they filmed the movie.
Cristina is an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico who got her master’s in engineering. She said:
"Being Bilingual from Mexico played a vital role in getting that position, as some of those antennas were in Mexico.” This was a dream job for most engineers and allowed her to create a legacy and provide for her family, which had a significant impact as she was a first-generation college student.
Many first-generation college students feel alone when they are first entering the “real” world. As it becomes more difficult to enter colleges, the job market also becomes increasingly difficult. Take current college student Katya Yanez , who was selected to be part of a NASA program to lead a simulated mission. As an immigrant from El Salvador, she is bilingual, and grew up with a fascination for space exploration. Her dream is to become a geophysicist.
She felt that math is just like learning another language; knowing the words is not enough, one must also understand the meaning, the culture, and how to solve problems with such skills.
Getting to where she is has taken a village. She needed a lot of perseverance and dedication, as she is a mom, a wife, works full time, and is a soon to be college graduate. Her love for her studies and knowing other languages is beneficial in her career because space exploration is a multinational endeavor that requires collaboration with scientists from many countries.
I pursued a career in finance because of the many societal benefits, and an overall fascination I had with behavioral economics. It also helped that I found math to be an easier subject, as English was my second language. Luckily, more schools and programs are now incorporating dual language programs and STEM. The future is bright, and as we said all of March for Women’s History Month, “the future is female!”