An Awarding winning Educator, Author, and International Speaker, Dr. Natoshia Anderson, is CEO & Founder of Smart STEM, LLC, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) Education Consultancy Firm.
She is on a mission to empower minority women and girls, at all levels of the STEM pipeline, to become the leaders that they were always meant to be. She has been featured in several books including “If Her Purse Could Talk: A Transparent Journey Into the Lives of Women Who Courageously Reveal the Contents of Their Hearts”.
She can be heard bi-weekly as the host of STEMming in Stilettos podcast, a candid and accurate portrait of the lives of minority women in STEM.
What is the motivating force in being consistent in what you do?
I am a Black woman in STEM and there are so few of us. That is motivation in itself.
I have a desire to see more, not just Black women, but more minority women in STEM. And then we need more women of color in leadership in STEM. This goal, this mission, helps to keep me focused and motivated to continue the work.
What were the steps you took to get to this height in your career?
Hmmmm, that’s an interesting question. I can look back now and see all of the steps but I am sure that they weren’t quite that clear as I was going through. I knew pretty early on in my career that I wanted, needed, to be a catalyst for change within the industry. I was almost always the only woman on a team of engineers and I was almost always the only minority woman on the team. I did the work and I was good at it, but I also recognized that the environment wasn’t friendly to me on two fronts.
I wanted to change that as well as encourage girls and young women into the career. As I progressed through the various levels of my career, I’ve always carried the idea that we, women, and we, minority women deserve a seat at the table.
I also recognized that we had to recondition our educators and parents to the idea that there are not “boy jobs” or “girl jobs.” There are just jobs and that any of us can do them. I have been careful to do the research, educate myself, and surround myself with others who have more knowledge and to learn from them before venturing into a new space. That approach has worked for me.
If married or have a family, how are you able to manage and balance both
I am married, and I have been for 21 years. I also have two children. The truth is that there really is no one strategy that universally works for everyone. It’s about finding what works for you and your family. I am blessed to have a spouse who doesn’t believe in gender roles. If one of the kids were sick, he’d take off as many times as I did. He is also a champion of what I’m doing. He is by far, my biggest cheerleader.
I have learned over time that being clear about your motivations with each other is a GREAT step towards ensuring your partner's support. We talk a lot about where we are in terms of our relationship and always try to rebalance when things get unbalanced. That requires that you both are active participants in the relationship.
What were some of the challenging circumstances you faced while pursuing a career in tech?
One of the most challenging circumstances was being constantly overlooked for the bigger projects. It was supposed that I couldn’t handle them. Yet, I was never asked and when I brought it up in meetings, I was given platitudes or my thoughts and feelings were brushed aside like they didn’t matter. It wasn’t until I secured another position with another firm that they wanted to give a bigger project. It was too late at that point.
How did you overcome male dominance pressure in the tech world and thriving despite people not believing in you?
The male dominance pressure wasn’t new in the work world. I had experienced this while in college, so I was well equipped on how to handle it and I also had support from friends and family. It is exhausting to go into work everyday and feel that pressure.
Having a mentor or other women, whether in your field or not, was helpful in being able to vent and to formulate a plan of action. This isn’t work that we can “do” by ourselves. You need support.
What is your advice to the youths and upcoming generations?
If tech is something you want to do, soldier on. Do not let anyone stop you. We need you and we want you.
Your skills, talents, determination and drive will take you far. We are waiting on you!!!
How can you earn financially while pursuing your passion?
I have always subscribed to the idea that there are more than one way to pursue your passion and make money doing that.
I have a day job, but I also work my own business, speak at conferences and other events, and work with K-12 and colleges and universities.
You’re enjoying this interview thanks to our devoted Global Ambassador Hephzibah Emereole. She is studying computer science at Ashesi University, Ghana. She is passionate about technology in the aspects of front-end and data science and intends to use the skills gotten in these areas to train individuals in rural communities and support organizations and companies to manage their data.