Emily Bayuk first noticed the gender gap in STEM while sitting in her high school AP physics class. She was one of three girls in the class, while there were 20 boys in attendance. After her teacher turned mentor encouraged her to pursue electrical engineering further, Bayuk was inspired her to create her brand, The STEM Diaries. The STEM Diaries aim to help young women grow their love of STEM, while acting as a resource for topics ranging from choosing a college major to finding a mentor. We caught up with Emily to chat about her journey and what’s on the horizon for The STEM Diaries:
Westchester Magazine: How did you come up with the idea to start The STEM Diaries, this combination education and lifestyle brand for girls looking to get into engineering?
Emily Bayuk: So, it actually started back in high school. My senior year, we had this scholarship contest called “Tingley” that is run within Fox Lane High School, and the purpose of this scholarship contest is to create a resource for students to learn about a topic. At the time, I was really into bullet journaling, which is just like a fun, aesthetically pleasing way to journal, and I was also super, super interested in circuits. So I decided to merge those two and create a book that was handwritten and helps you to build, which I initially called, “The Fundamentals of Circuits Made Easy.” I ended up not winning the scholarship contest. But while I was in college and doing research the summer before my junior year, I showed one of my professors, and he asked me if I had thought about publishing it.
So long story short, I published my first book. And then fast forward to my senior year of college, I ended up writing and illustrating another book in a similar fashion as my first one. I thought I should really call this the “The Fundamentals of Circuits: Part Two, Conversions,” because no one is going to like that really long title. It’s also not about circuits, it’s about energy conversion. So I ended up coming up with the title system for the book series and using the word “diary” instead. Then that year, COVID hit, and I thought it was smart to make an Instagram about it to really keep people engaged, do more connecting STEM to the world, and making it more fun for kids and hopefully inspire more girls like myself. I started making videos and posts about STEM and tying in my lifestyle. It evolved from explainer videos originally to now how STEM affects our daily lives.
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WM: Any plans to publish any more books?
EB: Yes. I have a third one that I wrote, and so it’s going to come out probably early next year, hopefully around February.
WM: When would you say your interest in electrical engineering and circuits and how everything works really began?
EB: That was my junior year of high school. So I took physics my junior year of high school and, in class, we had a little mini unit on circuits. I liked that it was pretty much figuring out a puzzle, and there’s something I really enjoyed about it. So I went to my teacher like, “Mr. Lead, like teach me more about circuits,” because he was an electrical engineer and a big circuit guy, too. He was the one that said to me if I really enjoyed circuits, maybe I should consider becoming an electrical engineer.
WM: What was your experience going to college at Bucknell University for not only just engineering but electrical engineering? I know that that’s a very male-dominated field.
EB: I was one of three girls in my electrical engineering class. There were like thirteen of us in total. So it’s like a very tightly knit group of kids. We all did our homework together after school. I was really lucky, I’ve never felt like my gender defined who I was as an engineer or like people judged me because of my gender and going into the field of engineering.
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WM: Now that you’ve graduated, what pushed you into the job and into the area that you’re doing now?
EB: Now I’m doing cybersecurity consulting at Accenture, so I’m helping them protect their products and stuff from hackers. I first got interested in cybersecurity when I completed an externship with Morgan Stanley’s cyber security team my sophomore year at Bucknell. That was just like a one-day job shadow to meet as many people as you can in cybersecurity. I love that it was fast-paced, and it was new, and there was just so much going on…again, the puzzles, like figuring out how to hack the system, and stuff like that. I enjoyed everything about that experience and, after that, I knew I wanted to do cybersecurity. Going into my senior year of Bucknell, I worked as a machine learning software developer for Booz Allen Hamilton. It solidified my love for cybersecurity, so the second half of my internship, they gave me this challenge, it’s called Capture the Flag, which is pretty much like it’s like a hacking challenge. You have to hack the system. And then at the end, you get a flag. The secret message is the flag pretty much. From there I ended up at Accenture, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
WM: As far as The STEM Diaries goes, you have so many resources for girls to get into this. You have blog, you have books, so is there anything you’re looking to expand on, or any areas of science that you’re looking to add more to?
EB: I would say the next step is going, I know, this is like a very generic word, to cool places. I want to show the STEM behind these places that people visit all the time and showing, like, here’s a cool place, and it’s related to STEM. There’s also adding new blog posts about life and science, like how to make the perfect cup of coffee according to science. I’m going to go into a coffee shop and film and learn how to make their coffee and then relate it back to science.
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WM: I can’t imagine your workload as an engineering major at Bucknell. But the fact that you were able to crank out these guides and all these books and stuff…how were you able to find that work-life balance?
EB: Yeah, I feel like, to me, it never really feels like I’m working. The STEM Diaries is fun for me to work on in my free time. It’s like, oh, I have 10 minutes in between class, let me just like work on this quick. Or before I went to bed at school, and I would work on it a lot after I finished my homework. It’s almost like a hobby in a way, if I have free time that’s what I want to work on.
WM: What’s your suggestion for any girls wondering not only what college major they should choose, but what direction they should go in within STEM?
EB: Talk to adults, or even other students who are majoring in something that you’re interested in, and just learn about their experience and, if it’s something that you would be interested in, pursue it. And also knowing that there’s going to be good days where you’re going to get good grades, and then there are going to be the days where you failed tests, and that’s okay. Just go with the flow and move on and don’t give up, because I feel like engineering is definitely one of the harder classes in terms of getting good grades. I know, at school, I got a 30 on the test once, and of course it was curved, because everyone was around there, but just to know It’s okay and keep pushing forward and it’ll all work out.
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WM: I feel like it’s one thing to love science. But to build a brand about young girls loving science and providing them resources about where to take their passion is such a needed niche. You’ve really built a place for budding engineers and mathematicians to find comradery, and kind of form a tribe around. It’s so important.
EB: Yeah, so talking about a tribe, it’s been such a cool experience with my Instagram. There’s a whole community of STEM women on Instagram, and everyone’s just so supportive. I actually met up with a woman who was in the industry and followed us, and she was so cool. I really like connecting with her, and she’s awesome, so that was really cool to meet her in real life.
WM: Any plans to maybe do a meetup or an event in the future?
EB: Oh, yeah, we’ve been talking about that, me and few other women in New York. I know they have one event in California a lot. But we’re trying to schedule one for New York, which will be super fun.
Follow along with Emily’s journey at thestemdiaries.com.