Meet Kathleen (Kate) Proudfoot, the social media co-coordinator for EYH Chicago. Kate remembers having a pretty extensive science education in high school, including calculus, biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics. She was not too fond of lab work then, but loves doing lab work now and wishes she’d found her passion for it sooner. “Taking lab [classes] in high school was always so frantic and anxiety-inducing that I actually thought I hated it for a really long time,” she says. “Turns out I just needed a chance to think through what I was doing.”
Nevertheless, Kate was still fascinated by science – especially psychology, the science that describes people’s behaviors towards each other and their environments. Kate majored in psychology for three years before realizing she was more interested in the underlying field of biology. Both subjects are thoroughly interconnected while also maintaining vastly different applications. She was intrigued by how individual cells influence behavior by responding to the environment.
Carrying on her love for science, Kate now works in science marketing and communications. She feels that it is incredibly important to share scientific breakthroughs with the non-scientific community. Her job can be challenging but through her creativity, Kate perseveres and finds ways to communicate complicated scientific concepts with the general public. In the future, she hopes to return to working in a lab setting. Science and discovery will always have a place in her heart!
Kate did not reach her current position without the help of many mentors. She reports that her dad, a physics researcher, is one of her biggest role models: “He was always there to help me with my homework, explain things I didn’t understand, answer questions, and later on remind me that I could do anything.” But Kate also emphasizes that not all of her mentors have been her elders. She recalls that her peers were often role models by simply leading by example, offering support, and providing advice on work-life balance.
However, Kate recognizes that not everyone has access to the same kinds of educational opportunities and role models as she did – and this is one of her motivations for participating in EYH Chicago. “I have seen first-hand that, as is the case almost everywhere in the world, there is still sexism and inequality within the STEM community,” she says. “These things may only ever dissipate once women and people of color are more dominant within that workforce.”
EYH Chicago, she hopes, will help accomplish that goal. Kate has big dreams for our nonprofit organization, like expanding our programming to hold workshops throughout year and building more long-lasting community partnerships with other educational non-profits. Kate realizes that our conference is only one day, but knows that sometimes, “it’s the brief experiences that stick with you and inspire you. I hope that this is the case for our EYH girls,” she says. “I’ve seen how incredibly smart and confident they are, and I hope these traits are solidified [at the conference] and help carry them to whatever future they set their minds to.”
In addition to her job and volunteer work, Kate likes to sing, sew, draw, and make jewelry in her free time. When she is not being creative, she is appreciating nature by going on hikes, camping, and running by the lake. Is there anything she doesn’t like? Maybe, but we do know that she LOVES her two cats, Oliver and Daisy Mae.