One Small Discovery to One Big Future


A recent high school graduate living in Washington, Libby Knell is passionate about girls' education in low-income countries and reducing the gender gap within STEM fields.

What motivated you or inspired you to go into your field?
I first really fell in love with technology at a Microsoft HoloLens developer session in 2015. For those who aren’t familiar with HoloLens, it’s a holographic headset that the user wears to interact with holograms that are integrated into our real world. When I had the opportunity to test the HoloLens out, it hadn’t been released yet and there were very few virtual reality headsets on the market. I had never seen anything like it before! After being able to play around with it for a few hours, I realized that technology could facilitate our daily lives in ways we haven’t even dreamed of yet. The endless amount of possibilities, to me, is the most exciting thing about technology. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our world.

What were the first few steps you took to pursue your field in STEM?
I signed up for all of the STEM opportunities in my area. Microsoft has really amazing free programs and Girls Who Code is a great free summer opportunity as well! Unfortunately, my high school doesn’t offer computer science classes, but if yours does I would definitely recommend taking them.

What message do you have for girls who aspire to be like you?
Do what you love and don’t be afraid to try new things! Work shouldn’t feel like work; you should be genuinely enjoying what you do. And if you’re not, try something else! There is no harm in trying something out, if you don’t like something you don’t have to keep doing it.

How have you combated gender/racial stereotypes in STEM?
While I was at Amazon for Girls Who Code, we went to a User Experience conference open to all Amazonians. In this convention room, there were tons of cool drone vendors and other booths with free giveaways. When I went up to one of the booths, the man at the desk asked me if I worked in HR. I responded to him that no, I didn’t work in HR, but that I was interested in becoming a software developer. The poor guy was clearly embarrassed and apologized profusely, but it just goes to show how deeply ingrained these stereotypes are. Most women are expected to be working in HR and secretary jobs whereas men are the coders. But that shouldn’t be the case. I combat these gender stereotypes every day by trying my best doing the things I love. I have found that this is the best way to prove people wrong.

What are your future goals?
Attend a four-year university with a major in business and a minor in computer science. Then hopefully get a job in the tech sector.

What motto or core values do you live by?
“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

I have always loved this quote (and this book!) because I have found it to be really valuable advice within my life. What you say and what you do shapes your future, not what other people do. You can’t blame everything on someone else, and if you do, it’s a toxic way to live your life. It is very important to take responsibility for your mistakes!

Have Anything in Common?