WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome

I looked around at the women around me. They looked quiet, studious, and were definitely better students than me.

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By Lynn Wang

Art by Annika Hanson

There are some moments in life that deserve to be treasured: true love, getting curved up to a passing grade on the organic chemistry exam, and walking into a room full of strangers to discover that you’re all sisters in the same struggle.

I applied for the WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) undergraduate fellowship on a whim, at the end of my final exams last winter. I was sure nothing would come of it; I’ve become pretty desensitized to rejection letters over the years. So when I was accepted, I was delighted— and a little intimidated. I wasn’t sure what to expect. How could I, a lowly biochemistry sophomore, have possibly been competent or formidable enough to gain entry into such a selective program? As I stepped into the elevator for our first luncheon a week ago, I remember thinking that I would be tossed out immediately. A pre-med struggling to keep a 3.0 GPA, with no active research projects, surely did not deserve to be given such a special honor, much less a research grant.

I resolutely give credit to the Goddess of Irony that I walked into a first meeting where the topic of choice was imposter syndrome. Continue reading “WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome”

STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?

The foundations of science rest on good artistry, just as good artistry depends on good science.

by Lynn Wang

Illustration by Charlotte Southall

A great deal of the way we talk about education and careers has to do with this implicit understanding that STEM and the arts—liberal and otherwise—are at odds with each other. You can hear it in the way your history teachers rail against your high school’s devotion to the arts, scornfully dubbed a “waste of resources.” Maybe you’re an art student who is amazing at what you do, but can’t fathom yourself sitting in another math class because x is just too hard to find. Or maybe you constantly have to listen to grumpy uncles who blame our generation’s unemployment on lazy millennials who all pick up English majors because they’re too stupid to hack (haha, get it?) an engineering or computer science degree.

Maybe it’s your classmates who reinforce the divide. It’s easy to spot in the way your engineering friends sneer at English majors, and vice versa. Or you’ve noticed how all your liberal arts-oriented peers on your semester abroad started to treat you differently when they found out you were a biochemistry major. The message are all the same: MATLAB doesn’t get along with Matisse, and that’s just the way it is. Continue reading “STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?”