• Danielle Hoefele

SWCC Blog: My Experience at Reclaiming STEM West Coast 2019

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Reclaiming STEM West Coast workshop in Irvine, California. I am so thankful to the organizers for creating this workshop, and my lab for allowing me to attend... but I had great difficulty explaining my experience to others.

The Reclaiming STEM logo, used with permission.

My friends and coworkers asked me "How was it? Was it amazing?" and yes, it absolutely was. But it wasn't the kind of amazing I expected.

Reclaiming STEM confirmed every suspicion I ever had about STEM fields. I heard over a hundred voices echoing my own feelings, that STEM is a challenging place to be a minority. It was incredibly validating, but also very, very depressing.

Me in 2015- fresh faced, miserable, yet optimistic.

When I started grad school, I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a scientist. I was closeted, and lost, and miserable, but absolutely certain that I wanted to be in STEM. Three years later, I'm out, and finally happy with myself... but I'm no longer sure there's a place for me in science. Being queer in STEM is hard, and progress is slow, and I am tired.

My poster at Science World in 2019. Out and proud, but tired and jaded.

Regardless, I wouldn't change my experience at Reclaiming STEM, and I wanted to share it with others. To learn more, read my whole blog post on the SWCC website.


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