Introduction

Join us in welcoming Raquel to the line up of Women in STEM interviews! We are excited to share Raquel’s STEM story with you, and dont forget to checkout the many livestreams and other interviews available during the month!

Livestreams - Recorded

May Interviews - #WomeninSTEM

The Interview - Raquel Medina

  • Name: Raquel Medina
  • Online Handles: rmmr, rm-medina
  • STEM Field of Study (or profession): Software Engineer

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

“Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.” - Leonardo da Vinci


Personal Experience

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

Raquel: “physics & maths, they provided an infinite play fieldphysics & maths, they provided an infinite play field”

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

Raquel: “I had quite a broad library on science and technology at home, most of it was just part of the ‘decoration’, but I went through every single book. Having friends interested in science was also a big influence as we kept reading and learning just to outsmart the others.”

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

Raquel: “I didn’t heard this term until very recently (not an Spanish acronym or word, at least that I know of), but I have to say I’d rather vote for STEAM instead (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).”

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

Raquel: “I remember developing as an Engineering student a ‘Simon’ like game with a small group of peers, hw, sw (assembly code) and the look&feel design of it. Very stressful (did we really have to solder the joints?) but fun.”

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

Raquel: “Not really, it’s always been a choice.”

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

Raquel: “All the people I’ve met with a ‘do it’ / ‘make it’ / ‘understand it’ attitude.”

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

Raquel: “A dream job would connect arts and technology, the great thing is that that’s a connection that is happening more frequently: e.g. Augmented Reality for the Stage. If there are any roadblocks or challenges influenced by gender, I don’t see them / choose not to pay attention to them, there’s always a high road.”

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?

Raquel: “In general I think it is important to do some things because you want to, no influencers here. I like all sort of patterns & construction games, in general tinkering / building things with a physical dimension (sometimes sw is too abstract!)”

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?

Raquel: “Sure, there are so many things to try and do that sometimes you follow different paths, but in my case, I always came back to it, I really like it.”


Women in STEM Impact

Q: What does STEM mean to you?

Raquel: “progress, knowledge, improvement, revolution”

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

Raquel: “no, I’ve never been in such a situation.”

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?

Raquel: “My personal experience is that the number of women in engineering/embedded sw is really low, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where we would reach a 5% of the project / workshop / conference population; in most cases we didn’t reach a 2%.”

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?

Raquel: “Networking with others.”

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?

Raquel: “Yes, I do, it’s still a small network, but it is evolving. Some of them I met through work, some of them via volunteering for STEM related activities, mostly in schools (I met a lot of women in STEM volunteering / coaching teams on FLL or Odyssey of the Mind competitions).”

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

Raquel: “Yes, I’ve met some women that have definitely surprised me by their ability to articulate a conflicting situation and their drive to help change things around. I haven’t seen this happen on a big scale, but every single case adds up.”

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

Raquel: “I’ve seen some initiatives by the Linux Foundation in recent years with their Diversity program, which is really good. I also think that the RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) Women in STEM support deserves a shoutout.”

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

Raquel: “hire them, promote them, life balance options for men and women”


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”?

Raquel: “This is a great time in STEM to find opportunities all over the world, my younger me would find amazing knowing about the forthcoming opportunities to travel around.”

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?

Raquel: “If office politics get in the way, it will show pretty fast, the conversations at the coffee machine will not be about the new algorithm any more. The coffee machine circle it’s the best measurement to decide if it’s time to move on.”

Q: If you could go back and change one thing in your STEM path, what would that be?

Raquel: “I should have started collaborating so much earlier!!!”

Raquel: “Look for something you really enjoy doing.”

What’s Next?!

As a reminder, this week, we will be meeting with Alejandra Muñoz Villalobos aka @girlcodemx who is a web web designer from Mexico and Michelle aka Silli_Scientist, a very silly Chemist! This week, there will be two interviews! To read more about this week’s interview, and to learn how to participate, be sure to checkout the 96Boards OpenHours website (update coming soon)! Countdown and instructions on how to join can be found there!

More information here: WI-STEM page has the schedule, go there!