Following is my narrative.
“No offense, but you’re into boy stuff.” My little cousin remarked disdainfully. The idea made me grit my teeth, but I just smiled. It’s not that being into boy stuff is a bad thing, but the thing that really bothers me is that there is a boy stuff. It’s true, from a certain angle. I am into boy stuff, things like video games, drones, building stuff. If my little cousin only knew I was taking woodshop of my own accord. For the second year. In a class with… no girls. And that I could make the things on the Lego cards in science as fast as the excited boys could.
I wasn’t really into building things until 6th grade. On a wondrous weekend in May. Specifically, the day of the first Maker Faire I was ever to attend. I’d always known I couldn’t be quite into the same things as other people, since my parents had been sending me to science camps since kindergarten. No one else knew what types of bridges there were. No one else had built a little paper roller coaster for a marble. No one else took things apart mentally or examined them until they knew how they worked. I didn’t fit in where I wanted to, with all the other people. Where everyone had a best friend. I’d always had a secret resentment of my parents for raising me to be different. But when I went to Maker faire it was different. Everyone loved to build things, and everyone was who they were. No one was trying to be anyone but themself.
I changed my life a lot around the time I found Adafruit. Most of my time had been thrown away trying to fit in. I’d been in a group that I liked, but I didn’t belong there. I just felt like there was something wrong with me, but I couldn’t leave- I wanted to be like them, happy, with all the other fifth graders. So, I pretended I wasn’t interested in the stuff I really was. I kept my great fondness of my DS and the wish for a cordless drill a secret. (Not that I had a use for a cordless drill.) I found Adafruit in seventh grade, and I discovered “Ladyada,” Adafruit’s founder, who was a girl, and into all the same things as me! Now, I visit YouTube every Wednesday after school to watch my new heroes talk about making things. Last year, I found my best friend, and started a girls maker club. My goal has changed. It’s no longer to stop loving STEM, It’s to tell others that it’s not boy stuff. It’s girl stuff too.
An 8th grader
Our Ladyada (Limor Fried) was nominated for Red Hat’s Women in Open Source Award! Please vote for her! Visit: https://www.redhat.com/en/about/women-in-open-source
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