#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Mia Shackelford

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”  – Audre Lorde

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m Mia Shackelford, a data nerd and people person born and raised in San Francisco, CA.

I grew up in the Sunset District and am currently studying Mathematical Economics at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. In high school, I became deeply involved in city politics, first interning with a city supervisor and later chairing the San Francisco Youth Commission.

Participating in public policy-making was thrilling, but it also opened my eyes to the complexity of decision-making. When I entered college, I knew I wanted to help people in power make better decisions. For me that meant studying economics and math, but also political language, intersectional feminist theory, and philosophy.

In each of my three internships–project management at the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, campus recruiting at Square, and economic consulting at Edgeworth Economics–I’ve enjoyed working with both people and data to improve processes, communicate ideas, and solve problems.

Fun Fact: I was born on Valentine’s day!

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
I looove all the publicly available data on the US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics website! I’m also a huge Pandora fan.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I’m inspired by my grandma. She was smart and industrious, working as a bookkeeper for most of her life to help support her family. She passed down a legacy of love, care, and dance to my whole family. She was never afraid to speak her mind or make a bold fashion statement even into her 90s.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Anything Beyonce.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I’ve struggled a lot with imposter syndrome. I was not a great math student in high school because I believed I just wasn’t a ” math person.” My senior year in high school I was just a few percentage points away from failing calculus. In college, I knew I had to take just 1 college math class for the Economics major, and so I decided to see if I could pass. I read up on growth mindset and study techniques, and ended up getting an A, so I resolved to keep taking math classes until I couldn’t pass them. I stumbled into the Mathematical Economics major, and 3 years later I’m still going strong. I’ve completed the major requirements and I’m still taking math because I love it! I even ended up taking an econometric theory class in Spain, and learned to write proofs in Spanish.

I still have moments of absolute panic when presented with a problem set or test, but I’ve learned to breathe through them and take the time I need to solve the questions or write a proof.

I’ve noticed that this same sensation comes up when I’m writing Python or R scripts–my first thought when I struggle is that I’m fooling myself and shouldn’t bother trying. But after so many years of math, my second thought is to keep going and look for help if I’m still struggling in an hour. This last summer, I ended up writing a web scraping program in Python to collect data needed for patent valuation. I had no experience with web scraping and hadn’t used Python in years, but I had a great time challenging myself and I’m excited to keep learning!

Ideal Job:
I would be happy in any position where my analysis and communication skills can help create positive change in the world. So many choices!

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
You are capable of learning and doing almost anything with persistence and support. There is nothing wrong with asking for help–just the process of preparing a question sometimes reveals the answer!

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