We are pleased to highlight Laurel Lee for her leadership and commitment to the Techbridge Girls community. As a member of our Board of Directors for three years, Laurel’s invaluable guidance and extensive marketing expertise propelled Techbridge Girls forward at a critical point in our history. Laurel now shares how her mother taught her to lead fearlessly, and offers advice for girls who are interested in STEM.
When you lead fearlessly, it’s not that you’re actually leading without fear. It’s that you’re moving forward despite the fear. I learned this from my mother, who was super strong and inspired me greatly. She always seemed like she could do anything when I was younger. But being the age I am now, which is probably the age she was then, I know she must have had fears, and disappointments, and setbacks – but she continued to progress and succeed.
After being a stay-at-home mom for 19 years, my parents divorced. My mother went back to school, went back to work, and had a very successful career working at tech companies. She did that while taking care of five kids at home – with grace, determination, and boldness. My younger self would say she led fearlessly. Looking back as an adult, I would say that is a bit of a misnomer. She had fear, of course, even if she didn’t show it. But she had the courage to succeed despite it. My mother taught me by example about grit and persistence, which has helped me in my career in Silicon Valley. She showed me that leading fearlessly is about learning how to lead despite the fear, and to lead with courage and determination.
That same vision was part of what impressed me when I first learned about Techbridge Girls in 2011. I loved how they not only exposed girls to STEM, but to role models and tech companies so they could see themselves in STEM careers. I also really liked Techbridge because they were getting to the girls early; they weren’t just waiting until high school when it’s harder to get them interested. I was honored to be asked to join the Techbridge Girls Board of Directors, and I was proud to serve for three years. In those years, I saw the organization grow and be able to reach more girls, and I’m excited to see this expansion continue.
My advice to girls who are interested in STEM is similar to what my mother taught me – go for it, and stick with it! Explore the various opportunities available and find a mentor or role model to help you – there are so many exciting avenues you can take. Ignore negative people who may dent your self-confidence or say you don’t belong. We need you in STEM, and you can help make the world a better place.