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Thoughts on STEM education, sustainable business, female engineers, etc. 

#TheFutureisFemale

The past week has been an emotional rollercoaster. On Friday (the day of the inauguration), I was lucky enough to go see the wonderful Roxane Gay speak in Santa Cruz. After a candid talk about white women's voting records, Pmurt's rise, and unapologetically embracing yourself, she graciously signed copies of her new book. Mine now says,

Rachel,
Be Difficult. 
- Roxane

Short. Sharp. It's a sentiment that is critical today. We, as women, and every U.S. citizen, need to work proactively to shape our individual future as well as the future of our country. The new administration is taking swift actions to severely restrict access to reproductive care (the effects of such policies already seen in Texas), ignoring the existence of science, and many other actions to reaffirm that the government is working on behalf of wealthy, white, men and few others. We have to fight for ourselves. I donated and made calls in support of Hillary Clinton and clearly it wasn't enough. If nothing else, this election has woken up a generation to the need for political involvement. The start of it was the Women's March on Saturday. I purposefully say start. The reaction from WOC to the shock held by democratic white women when Pmurt was elected has really resonated with me. The common reaction was, "Oh this is the first time you've been intensely let down by you government? Welcome." That sentiment has made me recognize my privilege and reinforced the need for me to step up. Thankfully I'm not alone and have been able to start having tough conversations about race, gender, etc, with friends, family, and neighbors. I'm also learning from the example of my cousin Kate, @GoKateShoot, who is using her platform to highlight powerful women and draw attention to the work that needs to be done over the next 4 years. 

Right now, I feel incredibly lucky about the fact that I work for a female boss. I was interviewed for a podcast last week and when asked, "Who's brain would you like to get inside and really know?" I said my boss. The interviewer cast off my response saying I was a suck up but it's true. She's brilliant and having never worked for a female before (and never even had much of a chance to in engineering) I want to soak up every second of the experience. I'm not taking it for granted. 

Despite the daily onslaught of negative news, I'm inspired by the #FutureIsFemale movement because of the camaraderie amongst women I've experienced over the past few months in particular. I recently had the opportunity to work with a female editor who was critical and yet supportive - a working style I hadn't seen much of before. It made me realize how important it is for women to not necessarily "Act like men" and in order to lean in but instead to embrace the traits that make us different and show how valuable they an be. 

Finally I'm (trying) to be hopeful because I know that to create change there needs to be a movement. In my circles - both in California and in Pennsylvania - I see that happening. I think the time is right for women to step up and step in to positions of leadership, though that leadership may look vastly different than traditional forms. In large part, because women can embrace the notion that community comes before competition. I'll explore more on this in a future post.

There's a lot of work to be done. Maybe I'm naive; I think our labor can result in a freer, fairer, and friendlier world for all people. And selfishly, I hope my future daughter won't get texts from her best friend (as I did yesterday) saying that her boss doesn't know her name so he instead calls her sweetie. Because there's no room for that in this day and age.