Desireé C. Davies is of Liberian descent and is currently residing in Irving, Texas. She is a Security Engineer at Vistra Energy. She is a member of the Identity Access Management /Application Security team involved in securing access to applications and systems, privileged access and ensuring timely creation/terminations of user accounts via automated integration between applications. An Honors graduate, she earned her Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security degree from Capella University.
Desireé has worked with the IUrban Teen organization which brings underprivileged teens closer to STEM through hands-on workshops and seminars. She has also participated in United Way’s month of giving which allows employees to volunteer with various charities throughout the month.
When Desireé is not working and serving her community, you will find her nose in a book, listening to a true-crime podcast, or supporting her local farmers at the farmers market. She is currently reading Annie F. Downs’ “100 Days to Brave: Devotions for unlocking your most courageous self”.
Why did you get into STEM?
I have always loved puzzles and finding a solution to challenging problems even as a young child. I will forever thank my mother for nurturing that curiosity and allowing me to explore all areas of STEM until I identified with one that I thrived in. I found that Cyber Security and the assurance of data, in general, ignited something in me. I was able to use automation and various pieces of my background to make things better. As I continued to research the field, I had a hard time finding people that looked like me in the positions that I wanted to be in; especially in leadership roles. Pursuing STEM gave me the opportunity to do what I love, make an impact, and stay challenged. It has allowed me to create and improve so much from devices to software and applications. When I began my current role, the first thing I told my manager was that I wanted to make some sort of difference in the field. Not only do I want to see more women that look like me; I want to see more women in leadership roles in all areas of STEM.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
I am constantly working to improve myself in every area of my life, so I see my entire journey in STEM as my greatest achievement thus far. I have been blessed to receive my Master’s Degree in Information Assurance and given the opportunity to land a position that allows me to explore all aspects of STEM and Cyber Security. I truly believe that I have greater achievements yet to come and so I am excited to see where this journey will take me and what my future holds as a woman in STEM.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
As a young African American woman, I find I am often underestimated and not taken as seriously as I should. When I first started in the field, I was often put in the position of being the “note-taker” or performing only secretary-like duties because I was “good at it”. There were even times that I would speak up and my opinion was not even taken into consideration or brushed off as not a true or viable solution. At first, this really took a toll on my self-worth, but I was determined to be heard because I deserved a seat at the table as much as my male counterparts. I overcame this by being bold and creating an opportunity to change the narrative in the room. I began volunteering for things no one would take on because it was too challenging, or no one saw a clear solution to. I created my own lane that provided results and value to the company and my department.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
While it can be such a daunting feeling, having all odds and so much more stacked up against you in a field that is dominated by men. It is important to learn to not be afraid to be uncomfortable. There have been countless times that an opportunity presents itself and I somehow manage to convince myself that I can’t succeed because I have never done it before. When this happens as it often will, push through that feeling and try things that you have never done before because you may end up loving it. In the end, you will always end up learning something new about yourself. Another piece of advice would be to kick down gender stereotypes. It will always feel like a terrible idea to take a path that is less travelled and even harder to continue down that same path when you are continually faced with opinions and actions that are undoubtedly biased towards upholding a misogynistic status quo. Never allow these biases to chip away your sense of self-worth or make you believe that you are less than very capable of achieving greatness. In short, be the change that you want to see in the world and remember, you are not alone.