Doin’ Girly Things

Black Girls Do Engineer, CEO Kara talks about the importance of representation in the industry

September 27, 2021 Season 2 Episode 8
Doin’ Girly Things
Black Girls Do Engineer, CEO Kara talks about the importance of representation in the industry
Show Notes Transcript

Season two is focused on organizations, people and ideas that are focused to keeping women in construction. Kara has become a full time CEO a wonderful organization called Black Girls Do Engineering focused on getting black girls ages 9-20 interested in STEM.

Kara's biggest drive is so her girls will be surrounded by black women in their careers. Kara have girls that she hopes to raise into strong women in STEM.

This year Black Girls do Engineer has 70 girls they are sponsoring. If you would like to volunteer to sponsor an event or a girl please reach out to Kara.

The remainder of season two Doin' Girly Things will be focused on answering the question: How to we encourage and retain women in construction to aid the labor shortage and empower generations.   

Social Media Doin'GirlyThings
The guest Kara
Black Girls Do Engineer Website 
Show Notes

Support the show

I'm a project manager at a construction site, building the internet. No, seriously. I'm focused on data center construction. My passion is electrical and mechanical systems. Enough about me. Welcome to the podcast Doin' Girly Things, a podcast focused on breaking down the stereotypes surrounding construction and making construction, working in the field,

and wearing a hard hat all girly things to do. In this podcast, we focus on professional development and personal stories from people in construction. This podcast is focused on asking questions to women in the field about their experiences and how to navigate the construction industry. We'll bring on everyone from plumbers, administration, project managers and even an author or two.

The premise of the podcast is to create a network of women in construction. I have found so many wonderful women whose voices and experiences need to be heard. Every other Monday, a new episode will be released. You can find transcripts on Doin' Girly Things website, and the podcast is available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

This podcast also talks about grief. Don't worry, I'll put grief in the title, I used grief for my mother's fatal car accident to shed a light on how to navigate it. I also have episodes for my friend Jacob and his group that work at NASA that are growing the first fruits in space.

Lastly, go to the Instagram Doing Girly Things to find out where all the action or to the website Doin' Girly Things with one g to find the show notes. Hope to see you soon. 



Thank you guys for coming to the podcast today. This week on doing girly things. I have a special guest, Kara. Kara is the lead CEO of Black Girls Do Engineer. And so this month we are focusing on mentorship, so mentorship is a big part of how we keep girls inside construction, inside of STEM.

But one thing that I really love about Black Girls Do Engineer is that they have focused on such a wide range of ages to get women, and specifically black women, involved in engineering. And today I have, Kara, who also had a podcast at one point, also has worked in oil and gas and has worked in all sorts of engineering who has now decided to fully devote herself into the nonprofit Black Girls Do Engineer. So thank you for coming on the podcast, and I want to start the conversation off by what made you so passionate to go from having this career in engineering to actually then starting a nonprofit focused on getting black girls involved in engineering?



Well, thank you so much for having me, Megan, on your podcast.

And what drew my passion was my own daughter. So I'm a mom of three daughters, eleven, six and two. And at the time, my daughter was eight years old and she came to me and she said, Mom, I want to be a software engineer and I look at my husband and I was like, Oh my God.

I personally did not want my daughters to become engineers because of all the trials and tribulations I have gone through in my industry and in my career. And so I never talked about what I did with my daughter. I had this vision. My daughters are going to grow up and be whatever they wanted to be and just travel the world and live life. And when she said that to me, I said, Oh my God. Well, I have to do two things here: One thing I know.

That I'm her mom and if anyone can help her get there and achieve her dream is me.

And the second thing I know that if I put her in those spaces, which I have done plenty of organizations with her around the area that she would be the only one, she always has been. 

So I tell my husband, I'm going to go get my girls. I'm a black woman. So I went to go get black girls because I knew from my own experiences I was always the only black woman in all of my roles and all of the organizations I worked for, and I didn't want my daughter to feel that way. So I decided to get my girls. So I got off the board that day and started this organization Black Girls Do Engineer.



And so how did your daughter know a software engineering was, or is it something that if you hadn't talked about your career, was it something that they've talked about in school, or how did she get the interest of software engineering?



From playing these games. So, you know, these children love their technology. She'd love to do that. At first it was like this whole interior design game. She was like 'Can I have it, Can I have it?', and I was like whatever. She liked to design on her tablet. And so it went from there to other games. And so these games is what kind of intrigued her into what goes on behind the creation of these games and stuff like that. And it's just from her playing these technology games.

You may see plenty of kids who love tech games. They are always on their tablet or something, or creating. And she looked into where she can go with that. And she just came to me with that. I thought that was pretty cool. 

I knew she loved games. As a parent, you're more worried about like, what is she playing? How am I monitoring this, right? But my daughter was really in the phase of loving to create, and she's still like that to this day. She loves to create by playing. Of course, now we're going to say she does a lot of coding. And she also loves to draw. So she does a lot of drawing, so that's just her thing.

My six year old, she's the reason why we now have an aerospace focus, is because she says to me, Mom, I want to be NASA engineer, go in her room is fully NASA decked out like she's into it.

Same way, she loves to create. She loves math. She likes to sit there and do math problems all day, so these kids, they know.



A lot of the paper that I've been reading, in the white paper is, is that girls are interested in engineering at the age group that your children are in. But then, for some reason, around the time that they get to middle school and they get to high school all of a sudden, and I don't remember the statistics exactly, it goes from like 76% of girls are interested in STEM down to like 24% or something like that once they get to high school. And so, is part of the organization keeping the interest, because if girls have interest in all of their younger, how do we keep them interested in it to go all the way through college?



Most definitely. So our program, we work for girls age nine to 21.

I had the think when I say that because new this new year, we're going to have a lot of fives and six year olds. We have five, six, and up so they can grow with us. And that's very important with us, most definitely so they can grow with us. I always say the reason they have the interest and lose the interest, from my own experiences, I mean, I come from an underserved community, I'm from a single parent household, I am the first generation college graduate. So my story when I got to college is when I decided that I want to be an engineer.

No one ever asked me,'Did I ever want to be an engineer?' my whole life. But they always tell my mom, she's very smart. She's very smart, right? You get all these awards in school, and no one ever told my mom what I could be. Nobody ever told my mom like how to challenge me to get to something great. It wasn't a conversation. Not even your parents. Your parents typically say to you, Do you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or nurse? Nobody really says 'Hey, do you want to be an engineer?' So growing up, you know, I never had that, so I kind of never had an interest in anything because there was a lack of knowledge in my community and a lack of resources, most definitely. So you're always excited when you're younger to learn, you're like, this is new to you. You know, you're going to school, you're going to be elementary. You're loving it. Middle school and high school. You're faced with so many different challenges now, like my daughter, just enter middle school. And I told my husband she used to be my sweet, sweet baby and now she's discovering herself. 

They're faced with so many obstacles. You have more sports now. You have a lot more things they can do. They're not really thinking about it unless it's there. And I don't know many schools thats offering STEM curriculums. And if they are treated more of a extracurricular activity, it's not treated as something that this is a part of what we do on a regular

basis. That, to me, is why they're losing it. I can say from my personal organization that working with these girls, I have had girls, especially in middle and high school, who have been with me from year one and are still with me today. And they're loving it. With them my goal has always been, you have to catch them on day one. You don't get them on day one, you lost them. And because they do such a great job of building those activities and building those things and keeping them challenged. They're doing it. They're loving it. This is a new generation. I love this generation. I call them. They most definitely going to change the world. I love them. I love working with them.

And this generation, they have all of this already at their hands. So they're already intrigued, interested, in what this stuff is doing.

It's just. We have to continue to expose them. We have to educate them on what the possibilities of careers that they can go into. Nobody really knows that, even collage students are still trying to figure that out. And so that's when takes people like mentors, people who have done it, in coming back to give back to be able to create that knowledge for them. And so I'm just happy to be a part of that, me and my team to be able to do that for our community. But we know the struggles that so many face, me and my board members who are first generation college graduates who have these issues in varying degrees, we were faced with a lot of challenges growing up. We've come from underserved communities, and we are these kids that we work with. This is very important to us, the work that we do.



And I love how you've mentioned it. We are these kids. How part of the reason, the passion I can hear behind your voice, too, is that you see so many of these kids that they are yourselves and helping them get to where you are.

So let's talk a little bit more about who you are. You yourself, you went to college. Like you said you were a first gen, but you also have your MBA. So what were your college goals like once you found engineering and you didn't really know about before you went to college? So how are you trying to, you know, better educate people about what is engineering?



So for me, when I graduated from high school, I did dance. So I had this dream, I was going to be a background dancer. That was what it was going to be. I was going to go to college and major in dance. And it was my aunt who said to me, 'No. You're not going to college to major in dance.' And I was like, OK, well, let me go figure this out that because my mom and dad didn't go to college. They were just happy to see me going to college. Now you're going to get a real degree. And so I was like what is this real degree? So I go to the advisor at school.

She's like, What are you? What do you love to do? I was like, I love science.

Pretty good at math. And so she was like, 'Well, maybe you should look into engineering.' And so I was 'Cool, Oh, let me do this engineering thing, with a dance minor.' 

She looked at me and said, 'What resumé are you writing that has engineering with dance as a minor? How does that work together?'

I said I don't know. I just want to dance. So I was like, Okay, well, fine. Let's just do this engineering. And so I knew I love chemistry, and so I saw the types of programs. And I said, Well, let me try this chemical engineering.

So I got into the School of Engineering. And did that whole chemical engineering. And so I got into my first classes and I made a deal with myself. I said, If you ask your first two engineering classes, which at that time was thermodynamics and material energy balance. I said, if I pass these two classes, I'm going to keep going. And so I asked those two classes and so I applied and got my degree. And so that why I'm a chemical engineer today.

But I always I remember being in those classes and feeling like the underdog. I felt a lot of different ways, because a lot of it, I went to HBCU, so they looked like me. You know, a lot of minorities at my school, but their parents were engineers and so a lot of them were coming to get there engineer degree so they were more familiar with what that career looked like. I had no clue I was just in there. Like, I just knew how to make great grades and do hard work and achieve something.

That's all I knew. And so I didn't really have a huge support system. I didn't really have any mentors. I really only had my best friend who went to college an hour away. Me and her, both first gens, we just in collage. So we're just motivating each other to just get through this.

And so I started meeting people in my program and I really started enjoying the program. I love the stuff that I start learning. And I was happy to get the degree. And so I, and then I went out there to go get a job, and I was lucky to get the job that I got. The way to work so hard in school. It was my senior design professor who told me to start small. Don't go into the big company. And I think that's the best advice he ever gave me because I did start small and I end up learning a ton of stuff starting out because my manager had 50 plus years experience and he gave all of that knowledge to me coming out of college. And so that was the best thing I did for myself.



That's interesting to say that to college students, because usually college students are being encouraged to go to the Fortune 500 companies. So for a professor to say that to you, that's actually kind of interesting to start small, to gain that sort of experience.



I think he's seen my skillset. So like your senior design, you know, you do a year of design and you have to go at my school, you have to go against an advisory board to get your degree and graduate. They don't want to say pass or fail. You a have process. I design the reactor, and I guess the reactor was really hard to design. And when he seen my design capability and skills, and the hard work, and the way I was calculating this thing out. I think he seen that I had potential to go small. And I think he seen me as more of a fighter, someone who's really strong in this field. So I think.

He sees something in me I obviously didn't see in myself, but he's the reason I started small and I can say starting in a smaller company, it was a lot more work because from my experience, I've worked small and worked big, I've worked corporate and I've worked in the field. From my experience I was doing hands on calculations for the company I first started with. We only have like four or five engineers. We were all very young and who hired us were almost retirement and they were hiring us because they wanted us to take over this company. So we were required to do a lot of hard work. And I think that's what he's seen in me. That I was a hard worker and that I had the capability to master whatever was thrown my way. So he told me, start small.



That's really good advice. Would you have considered him a mentor to you?



I think my senior year probably so, and I went to his office because I had to, because he was our professor, and to ask questions. But I would say his advice was, yeah, more like what a mentor give you.



Yeah. And I wanted to dive a little deeper into what we kind of briefly talked about, about why it's important to have mentors that look like you. And so right now, I'm reading this book and it's a it's a book about how we have all of this data. But the data that we have is very sexist, the example they gave was like the emoji. So emojis used to all be men emojis. And now all of a sudden Unicode came out and said, No, we're going to make male/female.

We're going to make black/white, we're going to make all these different races. And so and yeah, that's an emoji and everything. But that kind of goes back to like having things that look like you in whenever you text, you're not texting pictures of men, you're texting pictures of white women that there are people that look like you. And so one thing that I really do appreciate about the mentorship that you're doing is like, what you're saying is you're trying to get girls that look like your girls, inside of engineering. And so diving deeper into like why it's important to have mentors that look like you that aren't just male professors that look like black women. So that way other black women want to join engineering. And so is that, why did you make that the focus of this mentorship?



Because representation matters, most definitely. From day one of our organization, the first day we started these girls in my program, these black girls seen black women who are leaders in our industry walked in the room.

And we spent the entire hour with them just seeing us, they were in awe, like, Who are you? Like, they had never seen women, black women, working in these engineering roles who are scientists and doing all these amazing things.

They've never been exposed to that, so it took them a lot of adjustment, the girls in my program to see that.

When we talked about it. We ask them, How does this make you feel? They thought it was amazing and it changed their confidence, 100% around. Like at first they were like, Can I do this? And when we challenged them to do things.

Now, the girls in my program because of being around us and and being able to do things and critical think like us, and now they can tell you what they want to be, what colleges they want to go to, tell you what they love to do about it, what they like about STEM. They are very confident when they speak. Now they go into these rooms ready to work, and that's because they have their representation. They see it. And our motto is, You see it, you believe it. That's what anything. I mean, a lot of women tell you, especially black women, they think somebody on TV when they were a kid that inspired them to be able to do it. A lot of times there's not a lot of black representation, so you don't know what you can be. A lot of times you see majority of black people in sports, most definitely. And so you see a lot of kids working to become these professionals in sports when they don't know the data. Like you mentioned, that everybody doesn't make it into the NFL. Doesn't make it as an NBA, but that's all we're exposed to in the black communities, sports, sports, sports, sports. We're not really exposed to these generational, because I'm an engineer, I was able to gain generational wealth, embrace the racial curses, which is something our community needs so much they don't know that they can go to all these great roles and make a good living for theirselves. We're all just like, Let's go play sports. And it's OK. Some people have that capability, and that's great. 

But for me, I've always been a bookworm, so it's like what can I learn and how much can I learn. That's always been me, and I'm happy and I love what I do. And so our girls seen us do it. That representation piece is huge. And now they feel like they can do it, too.



I agree with you, very, wholeheartedly about just black people only ever seeing themselves in sports. And so then a lot of time they'll get scholarships to go to college. And then there's no mentorship to help them get a college degree that might actually, you know, like you were saying, like, I'm not going to say dance isn't the best college degree, but like what you were saying is it's like kind of what I envision like your organization is, it's like, OK, yes, you if you get a scholarship to go do sports, but let's help mentor. Maybe we can get an engineering degree at the same time. Is that kind of how you see yourself in the whole space and helping kind of the representation within those fields?



Oh, absolutely. I don't see like if you get a scholarship going to sports go I sport most definitely. If it's going to pay for you to go to college, I'm all for it. But yes, choosing those other career I've had friends of mine that were playing sports and getting engineering degrees, is most definitely possible. They graduate with 4.0's, that's most definitely possible in the engineering space. I'm all for it, but I just want them to know that they can do it and what those career choices are, and they don't know that part.



Would you agree that mentoring is the key to career success?



Oh, absolutely. For us, because that program, we do a lot, right? We have a skill program, a mentorship program, and we also have a training program. So we have these three arenas. And so our mentorship program is most definitely something we love for our girls that they are actually paired with SIM professionals. So can you imagine sixth grade and up being paired with some phenomenal women? We have some operation managers who have engineering degrees at these huge companies out here that they get to work with. And so, you know, you have a lot of great women, so that's pretty cool. 

But for me. Oh yes, most definitely. I didn't have a lot of mentors growing up, and I have a lot of mentors in college. I can tell you that early in my career, I have a billion, a ton! Which are men and women. I have both.

I have for people of different color. I have all that because I love the fact that I learned from become an engineer. It is very cultural. You're going to meet people of very different backgrounds, which I love. I mean, you get to learn so much about different people. So that's pretty cool.

So I would not most definitely be where I am today without mentors!



I would definitely have to agree that! There are definitely some people, mentors, in my life are not even mentors like some of them aren't even necessarily in engineering. Some of them are just mentors that, you know, give good feedback. And so what would you say is the difference between mentorship versus coaching? Or are they the same thing?



I feel like they're the same because it's like they're really coaching you. I have, when I transitioned, from oil and gas to the space industry, I got a male mentor who retired from the space industry. And I really felt like he was like my mentor and my coach. He would just tell me, you know, like a coach, get in there and get it done, that you got it. I love that about him.

But I also have people who are not engineers as a mentors, especially with my nonprofit journeys. I had some phenomenal women here in Houston that's just like come on here, take my hand, we believe in you what you do, and we're going to make sure you assist us. They don't have a engineering background, but they understand STEM, especially from a teacher's perspective, and they're like, You're amazing. You know, we appreciate you giving back and they, like, carry me like a baby to them. Like, I feel like I'm the next generation you grow behind them. So I have women like that. I have women who are just for me phenomenal, they write books, I read their books and learn so much great things, and I keep in contact with them and they'll be like, They're my mentors.

Like, I just recruit mentors. Actually my first mentor was, I'm happy she's she's coming into my program and mentoring one of the girls, my very first mentor and she was my mentor because I went to her and said, Hey, you're going to be my mentor. She was like, when I first started in engineering. You know, she had 20 plus years, she's a professional engineer, she's got her PE license. And I love her. And so I said you're going to be my mentor. So I made her my mentor. I don't know if that's okay or not, but it worked out for us and she's been with me my whole entire career.



That is awesome. So have you ever said those words to her that you are my mentor?



I did. And we were like friends as well and she knows it, like any time, I need advice. I need anything. I just pick up the phone and she's there.

00;24;19;09 - 00;24;36;06

Speaker 1

And I think one thing that people, at least for myself too with mentorship and understanding is that there can be formal and there can be informal. 

So whoever is looking at your organization, look pre-pandemic you guys had 30 events in 2019. What would be the new goal, let's say, you know, 2022, pandemic, everything's over,what would be a new goal for you guys? I mean, 30 events. That's awesome.



Well, that's doing the pandemic as well.



Oh, OK. OK.



The covid, it slowed it down for two weeks and then we get right back at it. And the reason being...

It's because our girls needed us more than they ever need is before, because their lives have changed completely. Like a lot of times, everyone, I feel like right now it's most definitely going, you know, from COVID. But the children are too.

They are really going through a lot. And so their world was shaken out as well. And so we had to push harder than ever. But I can say going forward, we have a ton of events. I feel like we have about 30 this year alone. We will definitely be doing something every month.

We are just honored to be able to do the work in our community. We have some phenomenal events, not just with our girls who are in grade school, but we have a lot of phenomenal events will be doing with college college students and training them. So we're excited. We kick off our year in October. So we work from October to May, we do some things in the summer.

But me and my team, we have planned out our year and we have a ton of things and we're going to be doing and people were like, Why do you think they're great? We think they're great because we hit the ground running. We are like, non stop.



Yes, because great things need time.



Yeah. And we plan a lot. We plan a lot behind the scenes, me and my team, I can't thank my team enough and I laugh because the reason why I thank somebody's always thanking me. I'm just grateful to have them be a part of my team.



And so what would you describe as a typical event? Because whenever I take a look, it looks like that there is a packet that people get in the mail. So what would a typical event be like that girls would be involved in?



So we do a lot of different things. So some of the past events we've done, most definitely, we create the kits. And people say where do the kits come from? and they come from my mind. I've got like my own develop curriculum. The way I describe it, I just have an idea and then I put it into a box. So some of the things we've done in the past, we've made candles with our girls, we make lipstick, we have made so many things, shampoo. And we've had some great companies to make these products come in and give informational type session to the girls before they do these things. We have done so many things just using stuff around the house. We've done a lot and this is getting a STEM kit and doing a STEM activity, but something that's very relatable to them. And that's how we spent our first two years. We have taught girls how to take part, put together, computers. We have taught girls most definitely how to cope.

We are heavy on each, you know how to cope because we have an artificial intelligence program and we we're very heavy on data. So we do a lot of stuff around that. But we're engineers right and we believe that you have all these types of disciplines and engineers, but engineers can do it all. That's our mentality. Like. We do it everything. We make everything. This world is because of us. That's how I do it. They dive into all of that. They spent the first two years just diving, getting familiar, getting familiar with those roles, like how to start coding with that is and they've done a lot of competition. So our first year, we did a massive where competition went to four girls who had no STEM experience background didn't know anything about STEM, and they ended up leaving out 70 teams around the nation with it.

So we do a lot of that.

We built robots and we have done a robotic challenges, and some of our girls have built robots and they're going to be building more robots this year. They're going to be doing more challenges this year as well. But outside of that, we're more future driven.

So we have revamped and going into our third year, so our girls are going to be doing a lot of environmental, renewable energy focuses, sustainable energy, life science, aerospace, all that.

So we do it. But now we're more like, what? They're what they're going to look like.

When they start their careers, what does that industry look like.



And I really like it how you are exposing them to all the different types because one of the things that whenever in college, I was really involved in this program where we bring girls in for a weekend and we'd show them all the different majors within engineering at the college. And one of the things that was interesting whenever you did this was there's the science behind the reason why women don't want to go into engineering as they see it. Has this hard science, all you're doing is crunching numbers. You're, you know, there's no humanity to it. And so teaching women the humanity of engineering and showing them, you know, like you're saying, like the life sciences, the renewable energy, the the aerospace, it's not just sitting there and crunching numbers. And you know, you're behind the desk all day and you're never talking to anybody and there's no impact on the world based of what you're doing. There really is a lot of impact. And so that's work with construction.

What I've been really focusing on is like, you're really building the world. And so getting women to realize that we do need architects that, you know, they can see the vision of the world. We need women in construction to be able to plan and to be able to, you know, see the vision for the whole job site. And it's not just as hard coding and stuff, but there is this humanity. And so I really like that you guys aren't just focusing on just like, OK, we're going to have all these software engineers come out of this program. But you guys have really made an interest for anyone.



Anyone at anything, if you don't know about it. Or this type of whatever. You almost definitely learn about it. You get to see all your options and we ask them where they want to be. Have some girls who want to be a detective, cool. Let's get into the science. Let's talk about that as we have so many different programs, that caters to all of those things. And they spend time focusing on each area.

And we don't push them into one area. This not us. We would never want to box them in. Especially because me and my team, we have all those skillset. Me and my team, and everybody on my team are probably all the engineers you could possibly be or scientists or something. So we have the capability to expose you to it all. So we're going to expose you to it all. We're not limited. We're going to teach you everything we know how to do.



And I love one of the last posts you guys have with someone from NASA, I believe that's on your team. They said, I want to show women that black women with braids and long lashes can be in NASA too. And I just thought that that was just very empowering because you guys have everyone like you're saying.



So with her, she's not on our team, but I like to highlight women who I think that are doing great things. She's training to be an astronaut, right? Which is amazing in itself. And she's more like, Hey, I have braids, I have lashes and look, I'm fit to be an astronaut. You know. She's changing the stereotype of what you need to look like, which is most definitely needed. I tell people now I have braids, I spent my entire career trying to fit into this box of what I was supposed to look like in these spaces.

I never could wear my natural hair. I always had to wear straight gear. I always wear a neutral tones, short nails. I always wear black and white clothing. We, as black women, always have to fit into the box the stereotype of what we supposed to look like as an engineer or in corporate. In any spaces. I number one thing I go to is to say if that as black women were not comfortable in this space.

I spent all my time doing that, now, like the generation behind me are coming in with their natural hair, the braids, and it's like I'm in awe, it's happening because I was never allowed to do that and to have people just say this is who I am. It's just amazing. I still feel we have a long way to go, but I feel like it most definitely happening. And it's more near than it was for me because I was never allowed to be my true self in the workplace.



Well, and with what you're doing right now is empowering women that we have this momentum right now, like you're saying, like women are starting to feel more confident black women wearing their natural hair. So like with your organization is helping to be that mentor, that's it's like, No, you got this girl.You can keep doing it. You got this. And that's what I think is so important about what you're doing.



Yes, but creating more black women just to go into this field. I hope, is that they can look around and it's like two or three of them. It's always been me. It's just to feel comfortable in this space. And I hope that people adapt and understand, start to learn black women. Honestly, I left my job, this past August simply because I did not feel valued and I was actually triggered, and it was more so from the lines of I wrote an email that I felt was very professional. But every time I went and talked to my management team about women who were not black women, how I felt attacked from them. They would tell me. That's just how they are. I was like, I can't be myself, but they can be theirselves. It's not fair to me. And so I left, I can't empower these girls and not fight for them at the same time. And I really wanted to change for them.

But I also equip my girls to understand if it doesn't. And I only say that because women 40 years ago. We are still experiencing the same things that women that paved the way for us experience. And so I'm pushing for change for them, but I'm also preparing them for that because once they get into this industry, what happened with black women and stuff like this, that we are now allowed to be ourselves, we are told that we need to change or adapt. And all this stuff, because people are not comfortable with us, right? They're comfortable with us doing the work and getting the stuff done.

I always tell people this too, I feel as black women, we carry a lot of these companies as though they are comfortable when putting us in the corner, as you may have hidden figures and have us do the calculations that are not what I see in ourselves or in the workplace. They don't know how to really adapt to us, and I don't know why, but we're just not comfortable. That's the sad reality. And so what happens from that? We leave. And I'm really tired of black women leaving. We don't easily install and equal to my girls the hard core truth of this industry and the possibility of change because I don't want them to leave because the spaces are for us. But my girls, I believe from what we have trained them to be and do and for their passion that they have grown for STEM that they are most definitely going to be fine when they get to these workplaces.



And creating community too amongst each other too, you given them all mentors, but then you've also created a whole group of black women that are now going into STEM that all you rely on each other to text each other when there's been a hard day or whenever they don't know what to do.



That's my husband will say we've created a sisterhood. 



You did, you did.



Yeah, that's what he said. A very important element to the organization, we didn't push the sisterhood first, but now it's a huge part of it. I didn't think about it when we were going in and I was thinking about like helping these girls just understand all that they can be. And now I know that they all have each other numbers, they all are in groups with each other, and I'm like, Oh, great, we create a sisterhood!



I love it. I love talking to you so much. One of the last things I wanted to have go over is you are looking for volunteers, you've close the doors for the most part about adding girls into your group. What you're looking for volunteers to help with the mentorship. So what requirements do you have for volunteers and what does it mean to be a volunteer for Black Girls Do Engineer?



Yeah, you want to mentor one of our girls? This is like a one to one mentorship program that we offer. We just require that you just have two years of experience and be a STEM professional so that can be working on any science, technology, engineering and mathematics roll. So that's pretty much our only requirement. If you're interested in that, we have an application for that process. We do a great pairing. I think a lot of our pairings have been phenomenal and also we have had a lot of feedback from our mentors that they love our program and these girls help them grow. Which is a amazing in itself. So they love mentoring these girls, and so that's not a requirement, we have for that. And then once we get into the logistics, of course, we require all of our volunteers to have background checks just for the safety of our girls and organizations that we get into that part. And so that's the do the one on one, mentoring or mentorship program. 

We also do events. And so, you don't have to be a STEM professional to help us decorate or do wonderful events or do college tours with the girls and stuff like that to assist us. Or to, even if you would love to do hands-on STEM activities, you know, we have volunteers, we export that and the same protocols. It would just be a background check and we perform and you know, we have a wonderful portal that you say, and this is when I can help. This is the activity I would like to help for and also record your hours and see the impact that you're making.

So we have all that in place, but we just do most definitely need volunteers. Because we are growing very fast. We have a lot of girls and a lot of this time has been mostly me, and my team, and my board. I tell people who I have working for. We are dedicated to this mission that we spend a lot of time doing it and we have volunteers that help. We can always use a lot more because right now we're projecting about 70 plus girls. And so anyone who loves to help us, they would love to have you out and to be able to do so. You just reach out to us two forms a way to reach out to us through our website at or email us directly at and we would get to all the information you need to just sign up and volunteer.



And I'll put all those links into the show notes so you guys can click on them and thank you Kara so much for coming on. This is wonderful. I was actually looking around my office yesterday and I was like, You know what? There is only one black woman in my office and I was like, You know, I cannot wait until there's more. So I really cannot wait until all these women that you are training and mentoring make it into the workforce. And yeah, we can change the culture entirely.



I would love to see it, as I always say. There's not enough women, there's about 24% of women in STEM. But there's only 2.9% of black women and sell their position on that in. But I would love to see the day and I never really see it working with this girl sooner rather than later, so I'm very excited about it.



Yes. Yes. Well, thank you. Thank you.