Create & Cultivate 100: STEM: Aisha Bowe

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This is what an engineer looks like. 

Meet Aisha Bowe, Aerospace Engineer, Founder, and CEO, advised by her high-school guidance counselor to attend beauty school.

While she never did pursue that career in cosmetology, she did grow up to be one of NASA’s leading aerospace engineers. These days, the would-be-beauty-school-dropout focuses her genius on the tech solutions company she co-founded. As a proud minority owned business, STEMBoard creates software solutions for defense and enterprise clients and works toward closing the achievement gap by empowering minority youth.

Learn about how Bowe’s bootstrapped her way to the top of the boys' club below.

Name: Aisha Bowe

Instagram Handle: @aishabowe

Business Instagram Handle: @stemboard

You are a force and we are in awe. From aerospace engineering to STEMBoard. What were you like as a kid?

Insecure and unfocused. I wasn’t the greatest student, I didn’t have any goals and I internalized the limitations others put on me. It wasn’t until college that I began to recognize my abilities.

At first, you were too intimated to accept a job at NASA. What's your advice for young women experiencing similar feelings?

Do not be afraid to put yourself in a position of failure! Studies have shown that girls consistently outperform boys in the classroom, so remember that we are badasses! And when that fails, just fake it until you make it

Do you still feel that creeping intimidation some days?

Of course! There is no playbook for what I am attempting to achieve. The company, our mission, and objectives were at one point just a daydream. I constantly nd myself combating negative stereotypes.

Where do your drive and passion come from?

Impact. I measure success as lives touched...including my own. At so many points along my journey, I doubted myself. Watching the company grow into an entity that builds technology for Federal clients while uplifting women, people of color and other historically disadvantaged groups in the workforce has been a motivating experience.

How do you feel as a woman in STEM?

Inspired & empowered! Visibility of Women in STEM is at an all-time high. While there is still much work to be done, I love waking up to uplifting narratives in social media.

How have you successfully navigated such a male-dominated eld?

Don’t think it hasn’t been difficult, but I realized early on I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed mentors (both men and female) who believed in me almost more than I believed in myself to help push me through and motivate me. I have a tribe of people that surround me with light and real talk when I need it the most.

What are your hopes for young women who are interested in STEM?

I hope that women see themselves and technology as being key to future success in STEM. I look up to women like Debbie Sterling founder of GoldieBlox, Dr. Ellen Stofan former Chief Scientist at NASA, Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code

You've said that "success lies in the establishment of positive daily habits." What are some of those positive habits?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. I set small, measurable goals focused on incremental progress: meditate, workout, eat well. Working out in the morning gives me energy, I feel accomplished which helps to create a positive mindset. I make lists, if I don’t write it down it gets lost. I review my goals each day and prioritize.


What is your biggest pet peeve?

Negative attitudes. Staying positive, even in the face of the improbable, is vital to success.

What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?

Don't spend life daydreaming about 'what could be'. Invest your energy in what is right in front of you and see how it can be cultivated into something meaningful #realtalk.

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Do you have any fears about running a business? If so, what?

That I will fail those who are a part of the team. That I won’t progress as quickly as I want to. I want to win and that drives me more than anything.

What's something you'd like people to know about running STEMBoard that they probably don’t?

Running a company is hard. STEMBoard creates smart tech for Federal and private sector clients. There’s no playbook to starting a business you created. As an entrepreneur, it is a constant race to stay ahead of the curve. Love yourself like Kanye loves himself-it’s key!

What about your career makes you feel the most complete?

There is an African proverb I love: If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together. Your team is and will always be the most vital part of a company’s. Bet on them, empower them and learn that in order to lead one must learn to follow. From my tenure at NASA to co-foundering STEMBoard, I used to place pressure on myself to have all of the answers.

If you had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?

Less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women or People of Color. I aspire to one day provide investment to startups. Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital does just that.

At what point in your career did you nd the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?

Sometimes you have to take an L. As much as I believed that others were going to see our vision, no one decided to fund us in Silicon Valley. We had to focus and relinquish the notion that someone needed to co-sign our worth. We bootstrapped and did it ourselves, ve years later we’re so glad we did.


Photo Credit: @davisfactor

Hair & Makeup: @SmashboxCosmetics @TheGlamApp @TheOuai