By Nia W. –
On Saturday, April 8th 2017, I attended the Confidence CODE for Girls conference at the Hilton Hotel in Baltimore. At the conference, we were welcomed by Ellen Sherberg from the Washington Business Journal. Then, keynote speakers Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who are the co-authors of The Confidence Code, and Rachel Simmons, author of New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence addressed the attendees with statements that really connected with me personally. Statements such as “Girls consistently underestimate their abilities.” and “We [girls] can be so worried about perfection that we get in our own way of perfection.” spoke truth to the silent confidence struggles I have as a new high school student. One of the speakers also gave us her own definition of confidence: “Confidence is what turns our thoughts into actions.” After the speakers finished sharing their thoughts on and experiences with confidence, they dismissed us to attend our two breakout sessions of choice. My two choices were College Admissions and the Science of Confidence (STEM). At my first breakout session, College Admissions, I learned about how colleges evaluate applications and what they are looking for in applicants. At my second breakout session, the Science of Confidence (STEM), there was a panel of great STEM professionals. The panelists were Ingrid Vaughan, who is the vice president in manufacturing at Northrop Grumman; Amani Foster, who is a manufacturing project engineer at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems; Katy Kasmai, who is an engineering program manager and the founder of Team Exponent; Dr. Redonda Miller, who is the CEO at John Hopkins Medical Center; and Dr. Liberty Vittert, who is an MIT graduate and an assistant professor and Mitchell Lecturer of Statistics at the University of Glasgow. One of the panelists shared a fascinating fact that only 29% of STEM careers are represented by women. After the two breakout sessions, we had lunch; listened to Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is the 50th Mayor of the City of Baltimore; and watched some artistic (spoken word and step team) performances that I enjoyed. Towards the end of the conference, Allyson Carpenter, the Student Government President at Howard University, spoke about her personal journey with confidence while asking for voters’ support during her campaigns. In conclusion, the Confidence CODE for Girls conference was an amazing opportunity that I was blessed to experience. I learned how to increase my confidence when it comes to interviewing for internships and meeting new people. Additionally, I was inspired by the conference’s down- to- earth speakers and their willingness to share that they were (and are) going through the same struggles as girls my age, but at the same time, they found ways to overcome those battles to become very successful. This showed me that I am not alone when it comes to my confidence issues, and that there are women who will mentor me and help me increase my confidence so that I can accomplish my goals.