Updated: May 30, 2022
About Afua Bruce
Afua Bruce is a leading public interest technologist who has spent her career working at the intersection of technology, policy, and society. Her work has spanned the government, non-profit, private, and academic sectors, as she has held senior science and technology positions at the White House, the FBI, IBM, and a couple of nonprofits. As a AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, Afua engages in efforts to excite girls to consider STEM careers; she has partnered with GoldieBlox, appeared on CBS's Mission Unstoppable TV show. Afua has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, as well as an MBA, and is currently a Technology and Public Purpose fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School. Her newest book, The Tech That Comes Next: How changemakers, technologists, and philanthropists can build an equitable world, describes how technology can advance equity.
What lessons have you learned in your STEM journey?
First lesson is: Perseverance is key. STEM requires a lot of trial and error. You may question if you can figure things out -- or others may make you question yourself. But keep working hard, and just don't quit, and you'll be able to find your way in STEM. Second lesson is: Have fun! There are so many areas of STEM to discover and explore! Just because you don't like one thing doesn't mean you won't like anything in STEM. And, if you have multiple interests, that's fine too! You may be able to do something new by combining your multiple interests
What has been a critical factor in your success?
My willingness to try new things. Many of the things I studied, or even the jobs that I had, were new to me and I didn't necessarily even have examples of what success looked like. I took deep breaths, tried new things, and worked hard.
What advice do you have for students and young professionals in STEM?
Find -- and listen to -- mentors! You don't have to have everything figured out all by yourself. Find people who can encourage you and who will be honest with you about your development. Also remember that mentors may or may not look like you; you can learn from people in a variety of positions and from a variety of backgrounds.