Do you understand how little 2% is? When you have 2% of something, you are missing 98% of whatever that object is. 2% milk is missing 98% of the fat. A loading bar at 2% has 98% percent that still has to load. When you have 2% of a dollar you have only two pennies. You are missing out on the other 98 pennies. Two percent of ten dollars is only twenty cents, and so on. But who cares? Why is 2% significant? Well, 2% is significant because that is the percentage of Science and Engineering Bachelor degrees awarded to African American women in 2010.
My name is Cassia Trusty. I am currently a rising sophomore at Villanova University and my major is Computer Engineering.
I am incredibly proud of my major and am excited to pursue this degree. Even so, I recognize that while it is important to express my excitement, I also must deliver the truth of what it's like to be a black female engineer.
When I think about my experience, a word that comes to mind is “intimidation”. Within the first month of being at Villanova, I had someone suggest I get tested for a learning disability and that I consider changing my major from engineering. While I don't claim that this comment held racial or sexist intent, it was still an eye-opening experience.
I had earned my way to Villanova through preparation that took place throughout my entire educational career. Of the 17,235 applications for the class of 2020, I was one of the 1,670 students who were accepted. I, Cassia Trusty, had been accepted into Villanova University to pursue (at the time) a Chemical Engineering degree. The same major that, when I told people, was met with “Ouch! That's one of the tough ones!”. And yet, here I still found myself, face to face with someone who so strongly doubted my abilities, that they felt the need to clearly voice their opinion.
I was already firm in who I was. I knew my capabilities. This was not the first oppositional voice I had heard. I did not take the bait. There are times when it is not up to us to insist that we have certain abilities. Instead, our actions must do the talking.
It is intimidating to be a black female engineer at a predominantly white institution. But you will notice that I said I am “currently” studying at Villanova. Intimidation has no hold on me. I am here, and here I will stay. As a woman. As an intelligent woman. As an intelligent black woman. I shall not be moved.