- BROOKE TATA, PH.D. from storiesinscience.org

Breaking Through My Glass Ceiling…Twice

Iwas not born a scientist nor was I born with the knowledge that I would one day be a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate in France. However, I attained these achievements through maintaining curiosity, making difficult choices, sustaining perseverance, and overcoming obstacles through my ability to finding solutions and seeking opportunities. These core attributes drove me to improve and develop the lives of others which is something I see as an ongoing journey. This journey to become who I am today has not been easy. Yet, it is an example of how one can turn adversity into opportunity through hard work and perseverance.

To specify, I had a scholarship being prepared to play tennis and the choice between College of Charleston or University of Virginia. Sports was my only way into education. However, my whole life changed when a drunk driver hit my car and broke my back. Ultimately, I ended up losing my tennis scholarship. I was devastated. But something important happened. I realized I had never questioned who I was or what I wanted to do. I was on a career and life that made my family happy, but not what made me happy. In fact, this is a struggle for many young people around the world.

Conforming to social and cultural norms is almost an unconscious habit to blend in and follow the paths paved that society and cultural gender-roles and stereotypes have defined for us. There are two major points in my life where I have struggled with this. The first was at this point – at the age of 18 – when it struck me ­that I had always followed the expectations of my family. The second was as a Laureate where I saw so many young women and girls still left behind. This ignited in me a desire to be a leader and advocate for women in Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM).

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