I’ve written several times about the fact that representation matters (it matters so much that #RepresentationMatters is a hashtag on Twitter) and how important and valuable it is for minorities to see themselves being represented positively in the media by people who look and sound like them, people who are willing and able to show the world all they they are capable of. But that’s not the only reason why representation matters. It matters not just so that you can see others who look like you doing amazing things, it also matters because it’s just as important and necessary to see minorities who don’t look like you doing amazing things and realizing (or at least being reminded) that the world is so much bigger than what you originally thought, and so that you’re able to see that there are many others who are determined to show what it is that they’re capable of.
Last weekend, neuroscientist/youth counselor/community organizer/person who is clearly very lazy and needs to get up and do something with herself @RimRK shared this story via Twitter about her encounter with a little girl at a coffee shop while doing some work. Here is the story as follows…
A story on why representation matters.— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
A little blonde firecracker of child just approached me in my hidden corner at a coffee shop /1
She told me my scarf was pretty and went on a ramble about how she was going to the pool with her little brother /2— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
She asked me what I was doing. I replied writing about "brain" science. We chatted about where your brain is and if boys had brains 😂😉 /3— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Tell her mom "This lady is a brain scientist., She said I can be a brain scientist AND a princess" /5— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Representation doesn't mean you have too look alike. It means you get excited abt science and being uniquely you /9— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Here's to all the little girls & boys who are going to heal the world with science, diversity and imagination. I'm rooting for ya /10— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
It didn’t take very long for this delightful anecdote to spread like wildfire all across Twitter. So naturally, @RimRK took this opportunity to share some valuable insight:
I see my interaction with a mini-human resonated with you guys.— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Happy to contribute to the tears & ovaries hurtin' /1 pic.twitter.com/JYQaYSv31c
A friendly reminder to the public to reach out to University clubs & societies. Keep your girls & boys insatiably curious /2— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Scientists respond to requests from said clubs/ societies. Go to public meetings. /3— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Every child/youth deserves to grow up believing they can go to space, build a spaceship or/& cure cancer. While wearing a tiara or/& cape /4— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Science belongs to EVERYONE.— Rim K (@RimRK) July 23, 2017
Everyone is born a scientist.
Lets keep that fire lit :) /5
There's been a lot of requests to see a sleep deprived, overly caffeinated, tiara wearing scientist.. 👋🏽🤓 pic.twitter.com/kRiBjc7ITi— Rim K (@RimRK) July 24, 2017
As wonderful and awesome as it is to see many a little girl dressed like Wonder Woman and told that they can fight the bad guys and save the world just like the boys do, it’s also just as important and wonderful and awesome to let young girls know that they can do their part to make a better world by getting involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and receiving all of the education and support that they need in order to know and be reminded that they belong there just as much as boys and men do. Barack Obama during his presidency was very insistent on doing what he could to ensure that more young girls would participate in STEM, Lebron James recently filmed an ad stating that we need children to focus more on getting into STEM and less on getting into sports, and the Girl Scouts recently introduced 23 new badges focused on STEM-related activities, which is certainly a lot better and more positive than what the Boy Scouts had to endure recently.
And judging from the statistics regarding the increasingly large gender gap in STEM, as well as the fact that girls and women, once their education is complete and actually enter occupations related to STEM, are made to feel unwelcome to the point that they regularly endure harassment and micro-aggressions from those that they work for and with, there is still a lot of work that must be done. And the sooner that happens, the sooner we can have more young girls growing up to become any kind of scientist or engineer they so choose, and letting other young girls know that the can grow up to follow in their footsteps and do the same…all while rocking a tiara with their lab coat.