Storyteller: Aditi (she/her/hers), 17, Pennsylvania
“In 8th grade, I decided to take technology education as an elective, which ended up being a really great choice for my personal development! I got to class and quickly realized, wow, I was the only girl there. In the class of 25 teenage boys, I was the only girl. Even further, everyone seemed to be friends with someone. As many middle schoolers, I did not have many friends who were boys, so I immediately felt isolated. While no one actually said anything, I was an outsider.
When the woodshop project came around, I was still on my own, traversing the pretty scary machinery without a buddy to talk to. In the state of my being different, I developed resolve and a goal. I was going to thrive in this place somehow. If I could not join in with the others, I was going to be so standout that no one could dispute my presence.
Honestly, I found an ally in my teacher, who would always boost my confidence with positive affirmations and check-ups. He took my insecurity of being a girl in this boy-dominated place and flipped it on its head. He invited me to present at school events, where educators came to learn more about our STEM pathway programs. He used my work to demonstrate to the class. I still remember when he signed my yearbook and designated me as the “Tech Ed Queen,” destined to make waves in STEM. It would have been easy to ignore the elephant in the room, but I am grateful that he acknowledged me and made the space comfortable for me.”