Confidence is key to a successful STEM career

As women, we are known for doubting ourselves. No matter how solid our abilities are, we often don’t believe in them or ourselves. We are always trying to prove ourselves and often feel like we don’t deserve praise when we receive it.

Conversely, when we receive criticism, we often take it personally. This can be a huge detriment to our self-confidence, and greatly impact how we feel about our career choice. If we go to work every day feeling like we are letting others down, or not succeeding where we should be, we may begin to think we should move on to a less technical career.

In fields dominated by technically-minded people, it can be difficult to receive a lot of criticism and still feel like you made the correct career choice. Oftentimes, supervisors or managers in technical fields lack emotional intelligence and don’t know how to communicate in a way that doesn’t come off as condescending or arrogant. They can be stubborn and set in their ways. Often, these managers are promoted based on technical ability and are given little training on how to actually supervise or mentor younger staff. Some managers may not even want that role, but their company may include it as a requirement of a senior or leadership position.

Even if you feel like your work was amazing, if it’s different than what your manager had in mind, it can lead to conflict that will usually end in favor of your manager’s position. Self-doubt begins to creep in, and if it happens often enough, it can make you feel like you just aren’t cut out for that line of work.

It’s important to teach any engirlneer in your life to be confident in her abilities, even in the face of criticism. She is smart and knows what she is talking about. She wouldn’t have made it through her degree program if she didn’t have the technical skills to succeed. Her ideas and opinions are valid, even if others disagree. Her ideas won’t always be chosen as the best solution, but she can still contribute to the final product and deliver a quality document to the client. More importantly, she can contribute to the future of her career and make this world a better place.

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