March 8: with Coding Girls against Impostor Syndrome
On March 8, International Women's Day, we converse with one of “our” young women. Here is the story of Samantha, a true coding girl who began her studies as a literary person and was swooped off her feet by the vortex of computational thought, discovering that overturning prejudice can be a lot of fun!
Heart and commitment. Hi, my name is Samantha Di Genova. I am 19 and live in Monterotondo, a small town near Rome. I'm currently in my first year of university and have enrolled in the Faculty of Pharmacy, even though my dream is to become a good doctor. In July, I graduated from the Liceo scientifico Giuseppe Peano in Monterotondo, a school that not only provided me with an excellent education, but also taught me to be the woman I am today. I am a person with countless passions, and I put all my heart and commitment into whatever I do. I have also been a volunteer with the Italian Red Cross. I think that helping others and putting yourself in their shoes is one of the most beautiful things one can do. It fills the heart with joy.
STEM: from diffidence to daily practice. Some people think that women are not made for science, that mathematics is too difficult for us, and that information technology is a discipline that can only be associated with men. Some people still believe that women should stay at home or that their work is less important than that of men. We have all heard this at least once in our lives, if not more, because the world of STEM is purely male and there doesn't seem to be much change going on. As a child I was always afraid of scientific subjects. I felt they were too far from me, something empirical that I could not explain. I certainly never thought that science could become my "daily bread." Yet, if I had to list just one characteristic that distinguishes me, that would certainly be the curiositas that the Latins considered as "the vice of men." Only ten years ago, it was not common to have classrooms equipped with multimedia blackboards. My class was selected for the installation of the first multimedia blackboard in the school. I remember we were all so excited, a giant whiteboard in class that could be plugged into PC! That was my first encounter with technology. Then, my school selected some of us, randomly, to participate in a computer literacy class.
Coding Girls and Checkmate to the Professor. After that course, I fell madly in love with this world to the point that, in order to use the pc, I pretended to have tasks that I could only perform on a computer. I later got my first computer and, starting from middle school, I had the opportunity to cultivate my passion with other afternoon courses which, however, my professor advised me against, considering them too difficult for me, saying that I would not be able to pass the required exams. As a young girl those words blocked me. I let her win. In high school, thanks to Project Coding Girls, I rekindled my passion and made it concrete. I started the project curious about what it could provide and soon fell in love with it. What I learned was not confined to those extra-curricular course hours, but rather I used the notions learned in various fields such as school projects or volunteering. What struck me most was not only what we learned, but above all the fundamental message of the project, namely that women are no less than men, that with the same education we can make a significant contribution to the world and that we must not stop in front of a "NO" or shut doors. On the contrary, we must persist and prove our value.
Union Amongst Women to Fight Impostor Syndrome. With this initiative I also had the immense honour of participating in the "Women2Women Virtual University"* and the following year in the "European Alumnae Conference," one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, one that I will always carry in my heart, and which was fundamental, allowing me to compare myself with other young women from all over the world. There, I understood that we all have the same fears, and that united we can overcome them. Being a woman does not mean being inferior or disadvantaged. We must feel equal to men and not be trapped by an imposter syndrome that leads us to believe we deserve nothing and underestimate our abilities. I strongly believe that it is important to eliminate the gender gap and achieve real equality between men and women. In my small way, I try to do everything possible to get us closer to the finish line.
* Among the students participating in the 7th edition, the US Diplomatic Mission selected 10 candidates for the "Empowering and Connecting the Future Online" course, organized by Boston-based non-profit Empower Peace/Women2Women, which has been developing leadership projects for young women for 16 years.