A topic I have always been interested in is Science. When I was young, I remember hearing about topics of Science in school and absolutely adoring them. There were fun experiments, tests, and labs. And I loved that every rule had an answer that could be explained or tested if someone believed differently. But I was also reminded of the fact that most science fields were/are dominated by men. Even though there are a ton of amazing women who contributed and continue contributing to science, it is rare that we hear about them. As I began looking into it more, I found some amazing women who were rock stars in their fields. One of the women I found was Ynés Mexía. She was a Mexican-American woman who strongly believed we should preserve nature. She fought for National Parks and wanted to stop people from cutting down trees. In 1921, she began taking college courses in Science and Natural History at UC Berkeley. At the time, it shocked many that at the age of 51, she wanted to go back to school. But it did not phase her at all. While studying there she realized exactly what she wanted to be: a botanist. She once said, “I produce something real and lasting.” In 1925, she went on her first plant-gathering expedition in Mexico. It was dangerous but well worth it, she discovered 500 types of plants indigenous to Mexico; one was even named after her (Mexianthus Mexicanus).
She was a revolutionary. Back then, women were expected to behave a certain way but she ignored the barriers put in place to stop her and excelled in a male dominated field. When others said that it was impossible for a woman to travel alone in South America, she replied by saying, “Well, why not?” She would later die from lung cancer, but what she left behind is timeless. Not just the discoveries she made, but the message she stood for: do what you love no matter what, even if others disagree.
When I found out about her work, it inspired me to keep going forward with learning about Science topics I liked. At that time not only was her gender a topic of controversy but her age as well. But that did not stop her. She wasn’t afraid to accomplish things others said were impossible for a woman to do. I love Science but even more so I love knowing that as time goes on, other little girls who love science won’t feel like they don’t belong in the field solely based on their sex. Every girl should know that they can “produce something real and lasting” no matter what others think.
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