How my mom inspired me to be an engineer
When we were kids, my brother and I always knew that our questions about math or science class should be directed at mom. She had a masters in Chemistry and had been working on a PhD before ultimately attending medical school. It was always clear to us that she knew her stuff when it came to science.
My mother was also the one who knew how to fix things. From busted remotes to leaky faucets to putting together new toys, my mom always had the solution (and she would yell at us if we didn’t follow it!).
My favorite story about my mom is by now family legend. When she was 12 she left China with her mom to immigrate to Hong Kong. When they got to the border the officer asked my mother’s age. Her mom replied: “12”. The officer told her that my mom was too old for the visa and could not leave China. Thinking quickly, her mother said: “Oh, she’s actually 11, her birthday’s next month and we just call her 12 because she’s so close.” That was how my mom got out of China and got to have 2 birthdays.
Because of these things, I grew up thinking that moms were the ones who were good at math and science. They had to be clever and think on their feet. They held high powered jobs to support their families. That has been a huge influence on me throughout my life- I knew that I had to be all of these things so that I could be like my mom.
At my company Hopscotch we spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more girls interested in STEM fields. To me, a big part of this is the lack of female role models in these disciplines. First at engineering school and now even more so while working as an engineer I look around at a predominantly male landscape. For most kids with a parent in the sciences that parent is their father. Thinking back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I was to have a mother like mine.