How I Started in STEM: Dr. Sharon Jones "There is a role for everyone in STEM"

How I Started in STEM: Dr. Sharon Jones "There is a role for everyone in STEM"

Dr. Sharon Jones is a K-12 Computer Science Integration & Curriculum Development Expert as well as the founder and CEO of the nonprofit, The Dottie Rose Foundation. The organization is named in honor of her grandmother, supports young women in the field of computer science to help young people find their voice in tech and CS.

How did you get started?

When I was younger, there weren't the same opportunities around what we would classify as STEM or STEAM now. But I will tell you this, when I was in high school, I was really into radio, and I had this little thing I used to do called DJ Sharky Sharon. And I would record music on my boombox, which was when they had a double recorder then, and I would listen, I would play the song, and then I'd stop it when the DJ came on. And then I would do my own recording of DJ Sharky Sharon coming to you in the midnight hour.

And at the time, I didn't realize at that time that I was actually doing STEAM and STEM work,

because I was using a lot of my mathematical skills. I was using my insights around science and what I thought was going to work in order to create a really cool mixtape.

So years later, even though I didn't become a radio DJ, I became a podcast host. And then I also began to teach programming, and I found that I loved data and information around statistics. And I found that passion as I was moving through my educational journey. And then as I began to teach, I found that programming opened up a whole nother world for me to develop and create that I didn't even realize was there.

What is the hardest thing about working in STEM fields?

There's also still disparity amongst female non-binary representation in the STEM field

compared to the male population. So that makes it difficult sometimes for your voice to be heard, and to find the right spot. There are still mountains I personally have to climb when I'm thinking about wanting to implement an idea, or go forth and want to think about pushing forward a program. I think, though, the hardest part is the misconception that it's not for everybody. I need for people to understand that STEM is a place of great growth, innovation, and everybody's insights should be implemented into the next wave of innovation.

And the other thing that I think is really important to understand is that there's a role for anyone in the STEM, tech, computer science field. As I mentioned before, you just find your niche and then you can add the technical know-how that goes with it. If you can write a sentence, you can write a line of code.

What is your number one tip for someone who wants a career in STEM?

Confidence is everything. Confidence with humility. Remember that you know yourself, but others will help you reach your goals. So be humble, take criticism, know that it's not meant to hurt you. It's meant to help you grow. And as you do that, you will grow and you will be successful, and every time you learn something new, those little wrinkles in your brain are going to be bigger and better and bolder and you will walk through life with confidence. You can do anything, just take it one step at a time and you will find success.