Back in July I was approached by Jaclyn Craig from the What I See project to ask for my involvement in their campaign on behalf of ScienceGrrl. She explained that they were bringing together women from all walks of life – creating a mosaic of self-expression, giving our unified voices power and inspiring connections with other women. A space for diversity, empowerment and networks? That gets a big ScienceGrrl tick!
So I said yes, and only later really thought about what the question ‘what do you see when you look in the mirror?’ means to me. And then, what publicly answering that question in a way that felt authentic to me would be like. Scary, that’s what!
The value of the project is that each woman answers the question in a way that reflects who they are and their personal view of their world with no constraints, expectations or judgement. I had the option of speaking from a professional standpoint as a neuroscientist, or as a member of the ScienceGrrl team but I decided to speak as myself. To be as honest as I could, however vulnerable I felt.
I have been reflecting on my successes and realising that they have been driven by listening to who I really am. Conversely, ignoring myself has been at the root of any wandering ‘off course’. So my film is a glimpse into my exploration and acceptance of that voice we all have, whether we choose to listen to it or not.
Someone wise once told me that I should trust my intuition because it is a real thing, hard won through experience. Trusting my intuition is trusting myself. Trusting myself is not just a state of mind, it is an action: consciously taking responsibility for my values and dreams.
This is at the heart of ScienceGrrl. We want to support young women as they explore their identities by showing them our Grrls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as they really are. We’re not interested in perfection, we’re interested in people – their passions, their personalities. We also want to support our Grrls by helping them build friendships and networks to lean on. Friendships based on trust, respect, acceptance and cake are why ScienceGrrl exists as it does today – people pursuing a common goal together, taking chances, making progress and yes, sometimes also making mistakes to learn from.
That brings me to my other reason for taking part in the What I See project. Taking chances in all their forms have been the most formative experiences for me. It’s inevitable that some people will judge my film, some will laugh – there will always be that. But I’m in this for those who will connect with it and for those connections that may lead in unpredictable directions. Because something else I’ve experienced with ScienceGrrl is that wonderful things can happen when you make space for them.
There are some fantastic communicators and ambassadors involved in the project and you can upload your own reflection here. Be sure to have a good poke around the website too! To get you started with one of those unpredictable connections, check out the next communicator in line – The Gin Filled Bluestocking blog by Charlie Sykes.