Hidden Figures Project 2 Blog

Our podcast can be found here:


I believe it can be challenging for women to break into STEM because of societal expectations. Women are often thought of to be more nurturing and caring, and thus belong in careers such as teaching and nursing. Along with this it can also be tough for women in the workplace due to the “brogrammer” culture. As discussed in class, some companies may not necessarily have anything against women, but find that they get along easily with a group of guys who are relatable to them. For example, a startup may find that they have good chemistry as a group of guys who program together, but also watch sports, play videos, and participate in other stereotypical bro activities. Although I do not necessarily agree with this, I can understand why they might prefer a man over a woman, especially if it helps work morale and productivity.

It can also be hard for minorities to break into STEM fields because of the already lack of diversity in some of the STEM industries. For example, someone who conducts an interview may come from a similar background as one of the candidates for the job. Because of this, the interviewer may feel better chemistry with that person than someone who may be equally as qualified, but is a minority and does not click as well with the interviewer since they do not come from similar backgrounds. The interviewer may not have any prejudices, but just the fact that the conversation during the interview clicked so well from the candidate with the similar background might make the difference between hiring two people.

Another reason why women and minorities may have trouble breaking into STEM fields is because of opportunity and role models at a young age. They may not have had the opportunity to take certain classes that might have sparked an interest in STEM. They may not have received any guidance or advise for a role model that could have interested them in STEM as well. Role models can be very important, especially for young children. Role models introduce and can spark many interests in children, whether it is in academics or other various hobbies. They can give a lot of encouragement and be a living example of someone coming from a similar background and has made it in the industry.

Growing up, I had role models that often sparked my interests. For example, in high school, I loved watching Roger Federer play tennis. I always watched videos of him play, hoping that I could pick up his technique and try to play like him. I would always push myself on the court and was always motivated after watching highlights of his matches. I believe role models can really motivate someone to work hard to be like them.

In terms of motivation to the STEM field, I believe my family played an important role especially in me leaning towards CS. Obviously, growing up in an Asian household and community, there was a lot of emphasis on kids going to STEM. Most of my friends and my older cousins (who I am close with and have influenced me) are in some kind of STEM field. However, my dad also works in IT, and when I was three, he bought me a bunch of educational games (such as Jumpstart) and let me use his computer to play. I remember having a blast playing, even though I didn’t really posses much knowledge of how everything worked. As a child, I also remember seeing my dad bring home various computers, taking them apart, and fixing them up. I was always curious about learning the different parts that make up a computer and remember pointing to a motherboard, asking what it was and what it did. When I finally got my own computer, I was often inseparable from it, as I spent a lot of my time playing games on it. Although I was not introduced to programming before college, I was always curious about how these games were made and how the internet worked for me to connect with other people in these MMORPGs. I questioned things like how the physics worked so realistically in this virtual world I was in. I believe this really sparked an interest and curiosity for computers in me, leading me to pick the one STEM field that best lined up with my interests.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Alan Vuong’s story.