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Breaking Barriers : Women in a Man’s World 

Written by Mariadelcarmen Zuniga

As Beyonce once sang “who runs the world? girls”, the world needs women leaders. Yet, the journey is never easy, due to male counterparts. They are always more likely to reach for those leadership positions or dominate particular career interests such as sports or STEM. It indeed creates a gender gap among these careers, intimidating many women into taking that next step for a leadership position.  But women such as Stephanie Wilka (Assistant General Counsel for SD Padres) and Paulette Suro (President of the Female Engineer Club as OHS) are breaking barriers, they are part of the few percentiles who pursue interest in male dominated fields. Women like them are the key to changing the course of gender bias within these male dominated fields.


Within sports a woman in a high power position is something unheard of, yet Ms. Wilka makes this a reality. With 15 years of experience in the baseball industry being one of the few women that are part of the front field of baseball. Wilka is on top of her game, yet it wasn’t always like that she had to familiarize herself with the industry. She always had a passion for baseball, yet she didn’t take an interest till her junior year in college, It was in 2004, when the Boston Red Sox had the “curse of the bambino” for 86 years they couldn’t win the world series, yet that year they beat the St. Louis Cardinals. That was her epiphany moment that she wanted to be part of the sport industry and she made it happen. The journey wasn’t easy, she quotes a quote by Branch Rickey (baseball executive, he signed Jackie Robinson ) “Luck is the residue of design” meaning we have to design and execute our plans to succeed, then the rest you leave it up to luck yet, within her experience she says “there is no substitute for hard work, you gotta work hard”. Her resilient attitude and ambition to work hard is what makes her succeed, unlike many women they often struggle within male dominated fields because they often devalued by their male colleagues but not Wilka she says, “some of my best mentors were men and were stepping up and saying no” she felt very fortunate that she was surrounded by a growth environment. She says “they were the orchestrators of her future success and they wanted to be part of that”. Her mentality to get in this role in the man’s world is hard work, she says, “we got to be great, search within yourself and what is hindering you, and bring it”. Nothing is holding success back, just the fear of intimidation and failure, but women like Wilka prove that women are leaders and must continue rising to the top. She is a gamechanger not only for the sport but for other women striving for success in the sports world, she is breaking that glass ceiling. 


Other than sports, the next most male dominated field is STEM with it being one of the most competitive environments. Engineering draws on all STEM fields and applies them to solve problems to create innovative device, structure, and software applications. In the world of STEM the possibilities are endless, yet women in these fields are often underrepresented. But all it takes is one to show women can handle the work. Paulette Suro, a fellow OHS eagle, is making that mark and tackling it straight on. With being the first girl in Olympian High School to complete 4 years of engineering, as well as being part of the cabinet for three of the engineering clubs: Female Engineering President, Treasurer for Robotics and Drone club, she is on her way to pursue a career that many find challenging and intimidating. Yet this doesn’t discourage her, from a young age, she says “I was always curious to find how things worked” she was fascinated by playing with legos and learning about printers. She didn’t take an interest in engineering till she learned about bionic arms and limbs, she says “being able to help people through engineering seemed really cool”. So, she is persistent to making that dream come true yet as being one of the few girls in engineering class she often phases situations where her male peers make her feel invalid, whenever she expresses her thoughts. She says “It’s a struggle at times, I try to prove myself and I feel like other guys don’t have to do that”, yet this doesn’t desmotivate her, she is resilient, she stays after school and works in her free time to always have the best presentation out of everyone to mark her place. She revived the Female Engineering club, she wanted to introduce all the fun things and just the world of engineering, while making it a safe space for girls to ask questions. She feels like asking questions in class would make it seem like she doesn’t know anything she says, “it will only prove a point that girls aren’t fit” which is why a lot of girls shy away from it because at times it is intimidating to being the only girl in a class out of the 30 male peers. Her ambition and hard work is what makes headway in this field. She has the potential to and she isn’t given that up, she is seizing this opportunity for herself but as well opens up the opportunities for other girls to do the same. 


It’s all about determination, you have to put your mind to it, the obstacles will only be a setback if you let it control you. Being a woman shouldn’t hold you back from doing something you have a passion for. These ladies might just be ordinary, but what they are doing by pursuing their passion is extraordinary.They exemplify the definition of women breaking the glass ceiling in a man’s world and they aren’t afraid one bit. 


Stephanie Wilka when she was interviewed by ESPNW (Photo by Larry Stokes -ESPW)

Paulette Suro (top row 2nd person) in a robotics competition with other robotic club members.

(photo provided by Paulette Suro)

This is Mariadelcarmen (Maria) Zuniga ! She is currently a senior at Olympian High School and is a Photo Editor in chief for the 2020-2021 yearbook term. Maria loves to stay active by running outside especially with friends. Anything with drawing, sketching, or painting grabs her attention. As well you won’t ever see her without her camera. When it comes to photography, she lights up and gets very enthusiastic about taking photos and letting her creativity flow. She believes she has the eye for photography (you can check out some of her photos on instagram @photos0121). Apart from that she is very driven to get into a 4 year college, she is very interested in majoring in Business (Marketing), yet nothing is for sure yet. 

OHS yearbook staff sticker-01.jpg
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