We all need heroes. Joseph Campbell wrote numerous books on the importance of the hero’s journey. Yet where are the heroines?
Even as an adult woman, I felt inspired and encouraged by the women portrayed in Hidden Figures and Wonder Woman. All of them pushed forward against great odds. I loved the gutsiness and innovation of the women in the film Hidden Figures. And my heart soared when Diana, Wonder Woman charged the enemy and inspired an army of men to follow. For Diana, it was her passion and absolute conviction that Hitler needed to be defeated that drove her actions and pushed her to ignore and plow through any obstacles in her way.
To attract more girls and women to pursue STEM, science, technology, engineering and math careers, we need more women role models and mentors are needed. In grammar school, I aspired to be a math teacher because I was inspired by the woman teaching my math class. When I got to high school, a nice man taught math but I couldn’t relate to him and he didn’t inspire me. I lost interest in math.
In high school reading Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring got me hooked and I wanted to be an environmentalist. The earth was in trouble and I wanted to help. Then came Jacque Cousteau and he inspired me to save the oceans. So off I went the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to study Water Resources, the study of fresh water. There is where I learned what it meant to be “the only woman in the room”. Something all three main characters in the movie “Hidden Figures” experience over and over and find ways to overcome. One of my favourite scenes in the movie takes place between Mary Jackson and Karl Zielinski
Mary Jackson : Mr. Zielinski, I’m a negro woman. I’m not gonna entertain the impossible.
Karl Zielinski : And I’m a Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison camp. Now I’m standing beneath a spaceship that’s going to carry an astronaut to the stars. I think we can say we are living the impossible. Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?
Mary Jackson : I wouldn’t have to. I’d already be one.
This was the spark that encourage Mary to tackle the impossible but it didn’t end there. After she started on this hero’s journey difficult obstacles would be thrown in her way. And then it was her friends Katherine Johnson and Dorthy Vaughn that helped her find the strength to push forward through what seemed like insurmountable odds and for most people would be.
There are real world living heroines among us. We need to shine a bigger and brighter lights on them to inspire the next generation of women. Meet 12 Badass Scientists
I invite you to share the women of STEM, science technology, engineering and math who inspire you.
Will you be joining me on August 12, 2020 for Wonder Woman 1984?