Viva is powered by Vocal creators. You support Paige Graffunder by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Viva is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Five Things for Every Femme in STEM

And Other Battle Tactics for the War

Photo by Soumil Kumar from Pexels

Being a femme in a STEM field is a special kind of hell. You have to work twice as hard from the moment you decide to dedicate yourself to your field, in school, in social circles, the job hunt, and at work. I am sure that there will be some haters for this topic because there always are. There is always someone screaming that the gender divide has been bridged, but as a femme in STEM I can tell you, from first hand experience and statistical data that sexism is still very much alive, and in action every single day. 

As such, I have put together this list of five things that you will need to have if you are a femme thinking about pursuing a career in a STEM field, are studying a STEM field or are already working in one. As always, this is just my take, and is in no way exhaustive.  

1. The Patience of a Saint

There is nothing quite like getting talked over by your male colleagues, who are about to say something stupid in a meeting. I have been interrupted during important executive level meetings, only to have one of my co-workers say something flippant about a baseball game to someone else. It is important to understand that it isn't you. It's them. It's always them, but you are 100 percent not allowed to complain about it, lest you be seen as the bitchy harpy they all see you as anyway. You must yield the floor to our male overlords, and if you can't get a word in edgewise, you must then craft a sickly sweet email to your boss after the meeting, containing your idea, so that they can likely utilize it, all the while taking credit for it. The chances of the boss sniping your idea doubles if they are also male, and then increases incrementally for every two years they are your senior. 

2. A Non-Threatening Level of Attractiveness

This one is a hard one. You must be both attractive enough that your male colleagues probably make half-jokes, half-fantasies, about having sex with you while they are playing Call of Duty, but not so attractive that you appear unattainable. If you are gifted with natural beauty, you may wish to try to dress down in the office or in class. If you appear too beautiful, they will use this against you. Any hard work you achieve and master will be credited to the boss or professor you are obviously sleeping with, because a beautiful woman couldn't possibly understand concepts like quantum computing, or trajectory physics. Alternatively, if you are perceived too unattractive, you will become a trope of the troll in the server room. They will not wish to interact with you at all, because they only ever want to interact with potential mates, and you are surely not worthy of their pocket protectors or their super hero shirts and compression socks, and don't even think about getting your lady-hands on their fedoras.

3. A Gentleness of Voice and Opinion

You must be twice as good at everything as your male colleagues but you must never let on that this is the case. You must appear in all ways non-threatening and compliant. If a male colleague makes a sexist joke, you must laugh, or else they will set their phasers to kill. You must be a gentle voice of concern and motherly affection with just a lilt of seduction. This way they know they can come to you with their vulnerable hearts, and when the mood is right, you can slaughter them all and use their blood as lipstick, while you single-handedly fix all their mistakes. You can only use this power-up move once per career though, so make sure it is worth it. 

4. A Ledger

This is almost the most important thing I can tell you. You must always have an old fashion ledger book, preferably leather bound, with cold water pressed paper. In it, you should write down every gender-driven insult and slight made against you throughout your STEM journey. Make sure that every time you get paid you calculate the difference between the glass ceiling wage you are making, and what your male colleagues make, and add that. Anytime you start to give into your feminine urges and begin to find one of your male coworkers or fellow students attractive, open the ledger and read it start to finish. Remember that they did this to you, either through action or inaction, and they are thus unworthy of your time. If you begin to find yourself attracted to female colleagues, if you are lucky enough to have them, compare ledgers, and bond over them. 

5. A Really Killed Shade of Red Lipstick

Not everyone can be meek and complicit all the time, so for the days that you need to kick some whiny pee-boy ass, make sure you have this. The darker the better. It should remind them of the blood you will spill should they cross you on this day. Don't over use this power up though, or it will become ineffective. Make sure you apply it liberally and with expert precision. Check it frequently, but never within sight of the men, to make sure that there is no smudging and that it hasn't migrated to your teeth. It will need to seem perfect and otherworldly to them, as though it was applied there perfectly due to your inherent connect, as a woman, to Satan. If you are in fact in league with His Infernal Majesty, then pair your red lipstick with that kick ass winged liner he has granted you the ability to apply flawlessly. If you have not yet sold your soul, for this ability, do not attempt it, it will look terrible, and everyone will know you are a fraud. 

Now Reading
Five Things for Every Femme in STEM
Read Next
#MeToo Moves Forward but Why Do We Still Support Chris Brown?