The Illuminate X Durham conference exposed me to the evolving roles of women in the STEM field. It was an enlightening experience that equipped me with valuable lessons and knowledge for future use and I have gained a few key takeaways from the event that have transformed how I see myself and society.
Firstly, from the opening keynote speaker, Ilona Dougherty, I learned that despite youth voice being a crucial necessity for change, it is often subdued under constant misconceptions and false assumptions. Youth are regarded as economic burdens instead of economically essential individuals who dare to take risks that adults are hesitant of pursuing. With chronological age being the central societal structure, a culture of separation is established where youth are feared seen as being incomplete. I learned that the best way to overcome such a travesty is to promote intergenerational collaboration and break persisting stigma and stereotypes.
Next up, through the workshop conducted by Mackenzie Clark, I learned about a term called imposter syndrome which, I eventually realized, is something that I have always dealt with but was never aware of. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of incompetency that originates from the self-doubt of having inadequate knowledge compared to others in the same principle. It's the fear that you don't actaully deserve what you have accomplished. The bit that surprised me the most from the workshop was the fact that it is the most successful and professional people that experience such a frightening thought. Overcoming it requires realization and acceptance and of reality and lowering self expectations.
Finally, the most rewarding experience of the day was successfully completing the case competitions and finally presenting our solutions to the judges. The whole experience taught me the importance and impact of teamwork. It showed me that even with given criteria, time limits, and cases, creativity cannot be constrained when working as a group. Overall, the whole Illuminate Conference experience was one that I will always remember and cherish!