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Shreya Anand: Underrepresented in STEM

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The shortage of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is alarming no more so than for women actually pursuing a career in STEM. Shreya Anand has this Perspective.

I never considered myself “underrepresented” growing up as a young woman of color who was interested in science and math. I suppose it was because I didn’t know what underrepresentation meant. What I did consider myself, however, was alone.

In my STEM classes, I felt conscious of myself whenever I raised my hand to answer a question or when I didn’t know the answer to a question. I felt undeserving when I did well on an exam and ashamed when I had to stay behind to ask a teacher for extra help understanding a concept. I worried about taking risks when it came to finding my passion but also worried that I couldn’t recover from failure. I always felt like I didn’t belong in some way or another.

As I thumbed through textbooks about physics or geometry, I marveled at the greats like Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Yet I was even more fascinated when I came across the one or two women mentioned in passing in these books who, despite their brief descriptions, had made indelible marks on the society I now live in. Were women in STEM fields truly this scarce?

I realized what better way to find out if this was true than to reach out to women in STEM careers. I recorded these conversations and created a podcast to spotlight women in STEM fields. While I found many women in these careers, what really shocked me was that many also affirmed my feelings of loneliness despite their incredible successes. They attributed it to a lack of role models who were female as well as an inherent sense of imposter syndrome no one could explain. Yet, them sharing their stories gave me the confidence I needed to continue my podcast.


My “loneliness” has proven to be my biggest asset these past few years. Rather than sitting on those emotions, I’ve shared them with others only to realize that I am a lot less alone than I initially thought. And while I may continue to feel like an imposter in the future, I know now that I an always rely on this community I’ve created, built on the idea of being alone together.

With a Perspective, I’m Shreya Anand.

Shreya Anand is a senior at Los Altos High School.

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