Latifah Hamzah is a currently P.h.D student of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She works at Stanford’s Lentik Lab, which studies the flight of birds in order to build better aerial robots. As an undergraduate, she was interested in fluid mechanics, a key aspect of the study of flight. Upon graduation, she worked in Amsterdam before entering Stanford University.
When asked about her journey in STEM, Latifah said, “STEM is such a large part of my life and my identity that it’s difficult to imagine how things would be like otherwise. Most of my friends are in STEM fields and they, along with my professors and mentors, are the ones with whom I’ve shared the most experiences and are therefore those who have shaped my outlook and thinking. I love engineering and making things because it makes me feel like I know how to do things and make my ideas come to life. For example, outside of lab, I’ve spent the last 6 months building robots and have also just finished a design to build my own bike, so I don’t really know what it would be like / how I would enjoy not having the knowledge and ability to do these things, which is likely if I had not pursued STEM.”
On the topic of who inspires this woman in tech, Latifah cited people that “I really know, trust, and love”. She also finds motivation from peers that turn their struggles into successes through perseverance.
“I see things in other people that I want to be better at, both intellectually and in terms of personality. Then when I see it in other people around me, I want to learn to be more like them and it inspires me,” she added.
Her advice for women who wish to pursue fields in STEM includes facing the challenge of under-representation and using self-confidence and positivity to combat it.
“…there is of course always the issue of under-representation of women in STEM and the challenges that this brings. It requires you to perhaps have a little more self-confidence and sometimes a little more faith. Other people may have more experience than you, or better preparation, or whatever. Don’t see this as a disadvantage. See this as an opportunity: it is possible to get there too, and further! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, because the truly kind and competent professors and fellow students will want to help.”
With that said, if you have any questions about Latifah’s work, gender inequality in STEM, or WiTech, please drop a comment or connect with us on our social media pages.
You can also read more about Lentik Lab, where Latifah works, here: http://lentinklab.stanford.edu/welcome/biological_questions