As a wife, mother, founder of a girls empowerment organization (Fems4STEM), and a Forensic Science Master's degree recipient, Aisha shows women and girls of all ages that no task is too big or too small to accomplish. STEM women are able to dominate and inspire others throughout many times in our lives.
Name: Aisha Martin
Alma Mater: Clark Atlanta University (BS Biology) National University (Masters Forensic Science)
STEM Career Path: Forensic Science
KH: What has been the most interesting part of your career?
AM: The most interesting part of my career has been empowering girls in and out the classroom. I’ve had so many girls tell me how much they hate math and science because it’s boring or they just don’t get it. However I’ve had just as many tell me how much they love it, yet they’re afraid to raise their hand in class. Many have never seen a Scientist who looked like me. It’s so rewarding to hear a girl say that because of me, she is going to pursue a STEM degree.
KH: We see you are a girls empowerment coach. Tell us more about your org.
AM: My mantra is girls can’t be what they don’t see. I created Fems4STEM to close the “gender gap to innovation,” by engaging girls from underserved and historically underrepresented communities through early exposure to STEM education and specialized mentoring. Our mission is to empower, inspire and equip a nation of girls with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be global STEM leaders. We also connect future STEM leaders with resources such as STEM scholarships, camps, internships and more. We can be found on Facebook, Instagram and at www.fems4stem.org
KH: For young black girls/women that are interested in pursuing Forensic Science, how do they get there?
AM: For young black girls/women interested in pursuing Forensic Science I say identify the area of expertise that excites you the most. I am 100% a Biologist, so it was a natural progression for me to be interested in Forensic Biology. However, my courses at National University allowed me to get a feel for everything Forensic Science has to offer and I found that other areas appealed to me as well. There are many Forensic disciplines, so I’m positive that something will appeal to them as well. For example, there’s Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Odontology, Forensic Accounting, Digital Forensics, Forensic Pathology, Crime Scene Investigation, Forensic Psychology, Forensic Toxicology and more. Don’t worry if you’re initially unsure, start by doing an internship at your local police station, state or federal forensics agency. The most important thing is to be fearless and just do it!
KH: How do you enjoy your weekends?
AM: My weekends are spent enjoying quality time with my family, writing, and reading. Weekends are also a time for rejuvenation. As a wife and mother, my weekdays are usually very busy. Weekends allow me to recharge my body, mind, and spirit which I believe is important for those in leadership; especially servant leadership. “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” (Eleanor Brown)
KH: What made you want to pursue forensic science?
AM: I have always been an analytical problem solver. Growing up I loved games such as Clue and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Ooh, now I’m telling my age (ha-ha). I loved to watch TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries and Murder She Wrote. To this day, you can find me glued to the ID channel watching shows such as Forensic Files, Motives & Murders and Cold Case Files. I like guessing M.O.’s (Modus Operandi) and figuring out who did it and why. Crime scenes tell a story and as an avid reader and lover of puzzles Forensics just makes sense. It allows me to problem solve, analyze and be a voice to the voiceless (especially in cases of homicide). I eventually plan to pursue my doctorate degree in Forensic Psychology. I loved Jodie Foster’s character in The Silence of the Lambs!
KH: Best advice you have ever received?
AM: The best advice I’ve ever received is dress for the career you want, not the job that you have. Be bold and unapologetic! Don’t apologize for being a leader. Don’t apologize for being smart. Don’t apologize for being innovative. Stop playing small!
KH: Why is it so important to get more women into STEM fields?
AM: In the eloquent words of First Lady Michelle Obama "If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math." While it’s nice to have a “seat at the table,” it will be even better when we are the head of our own. This can only happen when women in STEM dominate globally, fearlessly and intentionally create STEM opportunities and blaze trails for future generations of women in STEM by empowering them through early exposure.