Fearless Female Interview: Raegan Sikes
Favorite motivational quote?
“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.” - Mark Anthony
What’s your dream career?
I dream of being a chemical engineer working in the cosmetics industry. Making products safer, more effective, and more cost-efficient is something I care a lot about. One thing I vouch for is diminishing animal testing in the cosmetics world, and I also love plant-based products. If you are concerned about primarily testing an ingredient on a human, you simply shouldn’t be using that ingredient. I love seeing that some companies are rewinding and getting back to natural, basic ingredients that won’t damage your skin. We were given incredible plantlife on this earth that can do wonders for our bodies. Why would we use so many man-made chemicals?
However, I do have one other calling. I want a loud voice in this world. I’m not sure how I’ll get to that point, but I am using social media and slowly getting my ideas out there. I have a wide variety of interests and beliefs, and there are so many things I wish I could tell large audiences of people. I used to feel selfish at the thought of wishing I was “famous”, but then I realized it wasn’t so much about fame or fortune as it was just that I want a loud voice that will help others and engage community wherever I go in life.
What does a fearless female look like to you?
A fearless female is more than ready for change. She is not afraid of the people who may not agree with what she has to say. She spreads awareness while also spreading love. We lift other girls up rather than knocking them down. Envy is the enemy. We as women should not have to be afraid to talk about our issues whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. We should be able to feel that we can stand alone, walk alone, and explore the world alone. We are strong, and we know it. ((good grief, it sounds like I’m saying a pledge))
Why is it important to encourage girls and women to pursue fields stereotypically dominated by men?
My answer is simple -- Because we are perfectly capable. Women bring something awesome to the table of any job. We are great at multitasking and approaching problems from many different sides at once. Our brains work like a tangled web of ideas and emotions, so we are great at coming up with ethical, logical, and humane decisions quickly.
Chemical Engineering is a stereotypically men-dominated profession, as is the majority of engineering careers. When I went to an engineering program last summer, it consisted of 38 guys and only 6 girls. I was put in group projects that had randomly-picked team members. I can tell you that there were multiple occasions when I was treated wrongly or ignored because the male team members assumed I had no idea what I was doing, and in several cases the things they got wrong were things I tried to have them correct. Additionally, I was harassed by a few guys who were there (social media stalking, starting disrespectful rumors, constant private messages because they found my username in the GroupMe, etc.) and I found that unacceptable. Why on earth would they ever think that is okay? However, I didn’t let those things stop me. I hope that girls will pursue these awesome career opportunities and go into them knowing they do not have to put up with what I went through. Don’t be afraid to bring those issues to light. No one deserves to be treated differently because of who they are, and most professors in engineering will agree with you on that and stand up for you if something happens. There is a group called Society of Women Engineers (SWE) you can participate in and they give you a safe place to speak out and make change in your engineering college. They also keep you informed about special opportunities like SWE Career Fairs, which are huge events filled with companies looking specifically for female engineers! They usually have one in October each year close to where I go to school, and I am hoping to make the trip with them this year if I can.
How can other women and girls support each other in today’s world?
One of the things that bothers me most is when you walk in somewhere in a new outfit, and you see some girls at a nearby table turn their heads and give you this nasty, judgemental glare. What IS that?! Let’s try a smile instead. Everyone has their own taste and sense of style, so you don’t need to judge someone for theirs. The person you made that rude glare at might have been the coolest person you’d ever meet. Diversify your friend circle. You’ve seen the shirt that says “Support your local girl gang.” Lift each other up. If you feel jealousy towards someone, try to turn that into love and support for them. We have too much love to give in our lives to be wasting time spitting out hatred. If you see a girl being treated wrongly or disrespected, stand up for them. Remind girls of their worth, that it’s okay to ask for help, and that they are their own person and can support themselves.