Karen Velázquez is one of the members of Los Polinesios, three siblings from Mexico who are leaders in content creation and entertainment in Spanish, with more than 70 million subscribers across their YouTube channels, and tens of millions of followers on social media. Karen studied Transportation Engineering at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional of Mexico, and she seeks to promote positive entertainment for all audiences where diversity and social impact are celebrated.
This essay is a special collaboration for Voices of Youth to mark Day of the Girl 2021:
"When I was a child, I was often asked at school who my role model was, that person that you admire and inspires you. I always mentioned different names: from the celebrity of the moment to my grandfather.
It was always difficult for me to choose a single person as a role model, because I liked different things from different people. Based on the people that I admired and inspired me, I managed to create a custom role model in my mind.
For girls, having a role model is of the utmost importance, because the life that she will paint for her future starts there. Nowadays, and thanks to social media, girls have access to all kinds of people, with different nationalities and points of view.
Now there are more women who are scientists, engineers or are interested in careers in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This helps girls realize that they have a world of possibilities to choose as a role model.
When a girl is interested in choosing a technical career, this opens up opportunities that were not feasible in the past. For years there has been a constant struggle to achieve gender equality, and when I decided to study at my university I leaned towards engineering because I wanted a challenge in my life, both intellectually and culturally. Back then, only 10% of the students were women.
This certainly did not stop me, on the contrary. It was a determining factor for me to prove myself that I could handle something that was “not expected” for women.
Throughout my studies I realized that there was no difference between me and my teammates, we all had the same possibilities and capabilities. However, my main challenge was determined by culture, as we grew up with certain values and social norms that told us that careers in science or engineering were not for women.
It was complicated and I had to go through uncomfortable situations, but studying a technical career brought me many benefits, such as developing Systemic Thinking. This is a basic tool to create possibilities in the future and achieve a more rational understanding about the economic and social systems in which we live, and it allows you to have the possibility to become the architect of your own life.
When girls decide to study a technical career, they not only benefit themselves, but also help break stigmas and stereotypes in their environment, those that their families or communities may have. They become agents of change capable of modifying existing structures.
It is like sowing seeds for the future. If we want a more equitable world where women and men can decide on our future, we have to involve girls starting today, encouraging them to explore technology and science.
Sow a seed and in the future it will give you a tree with many fruits. This is not only an individual benefit but a collective one."