Kimberly is the first Chemical Engineer we have interviewed so far, and we are happy to have her. Clearly, there has been quite a diverse group of interviews, and we are excited to keep this going. So after enjoying Kimberly’s interview, be sure to stop back in on Monday for the next round in the Women in STEM written interview series!

A big thank you to Kimberly for taking the time to provide us with her STEM story!

May Interviews - #WomeninSTEM

The Interview - Kimberly Nguyen

  • Name: Kimberly Nguyen
  • Age group: 22-25
  • Online Handle: nykimberly
  • STEM Field of Study (or profession): Chemical Engineering

Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and who is it from?

left this world a little better just because

Personal Experience

Q: What was (or is) your favorite subject in school and why?

Kimberly: “Physics & Chemistry; it made sense”

Q: What was your daily routine like (in school, work, or at home). How might this have impacted/influenced your participation in STEM?

Kimberly: “Engineering is separate from my identity, so it does feel like I get to spend less time on it”

Q: Describe the first time you heard about STEM, why was this an appealing thing to be a part of?

Kimberly: “I first heard about it senior year of high school, when I did well in math. I was told it was a well paid and stable field.”

Q: When was the first time you became actively involved in STEM? Do you recall a specific project or initiative?

Kimberly: “Applying to college, I had to pick a major”

Q: How have your beliefs, motivations and aspirations changed over time? When did a career in STEM become a priority or choice?

Kimberly: “When I had to pay the bills, my career in STEM became a priority. When I found out that I liked tackling challenging and multidisciplinary problems, a career in STEM became a choice that I make willingly every day :)”

Q: Who has served as an ‘influencer’ in your path to a STEM focused education and/or career?

Kimberly: “The internet”

Q: What is your dream job? Can you see any roadblocks or challenges which might be influenced by your gender?

Kimberly: “I would like to direct a large engineering team. I find that people don’t naturally envision a female leader– perhaps a female project coordinator– but not a leader.”

Q: Are hobbies in STEM important? What about hobbies in general? Can you share some of your hobbies that may (or may not) have contributed to your STEM involvement?

Kimberly: “I like to read and write and that has helped me learn and communicate well. In engineering, good communication is key to collaboration and large development efforts.”

Q: Has there been any point when you (or someone close to you) wanted to give up STEM (work, hobby, both)? What made you stay?

Kimberly: “Absolutely. Well, they did leave :’( Engineers at work, particularly male engineers, can be rather exclusive.”

Women in STEM Impact

Q: What does STEM mean to you?

Kimberly: “STEM is rigor and opportunity”

Q: Can you recall any times when you questioned your involvement in STEM because of your gender?

Kimberly: “Yes. I communicate well, and many male engineers do too, but I am often told I should not be an engineer because I can communicate well and am better off in marketing.”

Q: What are some of the personal experiences - or compelling arguments - that have influenced your thinking around gender and STEM, and have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?

Kimberly: “I observed a lot of conflict, particularly among older male colleagues toward younger female colleagues. The condescension was frustrating.”

Q: Can you talk a bit about some of the specific ways you have advocated for change? If so, please tell us more about the successes and challenges you faced?

Kimberly: “I try to be successful and build my colleagues up.”

Q: Do you have a network of women in STEM around you to share knowledge and remind you you are not alone? If so, how did you go about creating that network?

Kimberly: “I don’t. “

Q: Do you have a mentor or friend who inspires you? How/Why? (someone you know personally)

Kimberly: “My friend Rachel Patron works hard, does excellent work, and people like her. This is the kind of success that I believe will open the eyes of prejudiced colleagues who believe women can’t.”

Q: Are you involved/can you recommend any organization(s) that support Women in STEM (shoutouts)?

Kimberly: “No.”

Q: Can you name any women who have made a strong impact in the STEM community? How has their impact made an influenced your life?

Kimberly: “Ebonee Williams. She directed the Gordon program at UC San Diego. She helped me believe in myself.”

Q: Top three changes which could make life easier for Women in STEM?

Kimberly: “Inclusive leadership at the top is a win for everyone involved.”

Advice to the younger you and women considering a career in STEM

Q: Which achievement do you look at and think “I’d love to go back in time and tell younger me that this was possible”?

Kimberly: “That I could run experiments and think scientifically at any age”

Q: Did you ever stay at a place where politics got in the way of curiosity, technical progress or personal growth? How did you realize, and at which point did you decide to move on?

Kimberly: “Condescending colleagues who discourage your work can make it hard to stay curious.”

Thanks, Kimberly! :-)

What’s Next?!

Today we had our second livestream interview with AnaQueenMaker! And if you missed it, you are still able to find the recording on both 96Boards Facebook and YouTube channels. Thank you once again to everyone who attended, and we look forward to seeing you next week, when we speak with @Falkyou who is a web applications developer from Pittsburgh! Exciting stuff!