Young ladies please, I am begging you, please use your voice. Don’t let your professors, peers, or superiors ever make you feel like you are inadequate just because you exist.
Who is M’benda N’dour?
A first-generation Senegalese American, I was raised in Los Angeles, California. Graduating in 2019 from CSUN with degrees that include Computer Science, Mathematics, and Africana Studies, I work as a Software Engineer and have a passion to teach young girls how to code.
B.S in Computer Science, Minors in Math and Africana Studies
How did you choose to pursue this field?
As a child, I traveled to all 50 States with my parents and younger brother. While traveling between States, my brother and I would play games like who can multiply numbers the fastest, or tinker around with their electronic toys. This ingrained a love of STEM, travel, and culture that I would carry into my adult years.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?
My original intended field was actually Psychology. I love helping people and thought that it was truly my calling. But after trying out my first coding class, I really felt like I could impact more lives pursuing a career in Computer Science.
What do you love most about your job or career?
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
The most rewarding aspect of my career is realizing just how much I can impact the lives of young girls. Representation is everything, and if I can help one girl see herself as a Software Engineer, then I am satisfied!
What things would you want to see changed about your current field of study or job?
I would change the work/life balance. I am lucky that my company doesn’t make you feel like you have to prioritize your work over your personal life. However, I know quite a few Software Engineers in other companies that do feel the pressure to spend more time working.
What are the most difficult things or disappointing aspect of your job?
I would say lack of diversity. I’m used to being one of a few women, and always the only Black woman. It can get lonely sometimes.
What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?
I would say that you need to make sure it’s what you really want to do. The STEM field is quite difficult, and if you don’t keep your eyes on the prize, you will lose steam and end up miserable.
How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?
I combat it by not “avoiding” being a woman of color. I like to acknowledge the fact that I am proudly a woman of color, have open dialogue, and work really hard.
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?
I would tell my younger self that I am going to hear the most outrageous things I have ever heard. I am going to feel uncomfortable. I am going to be surrounded by people who don’t look like me the majority of the time. But it is going to be okay. I will stick to my guns, use my voice, and end up achieving everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?
What is your favorite quote?
Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are”
My dad tells me this everyday. In order to get through the STEM field, you need to surround yourself with like-minded, goal-oriented individuals that will push you to study, do homework, and be your best self
How has your family been a great influence or support system?
My family is everything to me. My younger brother would make me teach him complex equations, algorithms, and proofs so that I could better understand it. My parents would work 24/7, and to complete exhaustion, so that I could focus on school. I would not have survived this journey without my support system
What are your future goals related to your career?
My future career goal is to open an organization that can teach girls how to code.
all social media is @senegoddess
Contact M’benda for any further questions: