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Red State Women

STEM studies and tech jobs can help Texas girls get ahead

by Rep. Angie Chen Button

I was not lucky enough to be born in this great country. After my parents fled communist China because they valued freedom over all else, I was born in Taiwan.

With my parents and three siblings, I grew up in a 300-square-foot, one-room hut with no kitchen or bathroom. I learned the importance of hard work, education and family. We did not have money, but we did have a lot of love. I was raised knowing the importance of freedom and instilled with a strong work ethic.

Now I am an American! I am a wife, mother, state representative, CPA and an international marketing manager for Texas Instruments. I am proof that with hard work and dedication, Texas women can accomplish anything they want.

Through education, I have been able to write my own story. As a child, I had to travel on three buses every day to get to school. Because we were so poor, I made the journey in my brother’s hand-me-downs. Although the path was not easy, studying hard was the only path to success in my village. I did work very hard, but I credit much of my success to many others.

First, the American troops who protected Taiwan during the tumultuous Cold War era and Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater for his steadfast resolve. I considered myself a Republican even as a child because the Republican Party mirrored the values of freedom, education and focus on family that my parents taught us. Without the protection of the troops and without my parents’ willingness to sacrifice so their children could succeed, I would not have had the freedom to write my own story.

At the age of 24, I came to Texas when my pursuit for knowledge brought me to UT-Dallas, where I earned a master’s degree in management science. Without money to spend, I bought only one textbook while at UTD. I improvised by borrowing textbooks from other students in exchange for sharing my notes. My future husband, Darcy, was one of those students. I try to pass that example along to my own son and student groups on how resourcefulness and determination lead to good results.

After graduation, I was hired by Texas Instruments, where I held several positions and worked hard to climb the ladder. I am now an international marketing manager for TI, where I sell American products overseas. In 2009, I realized another dream when I was sworn in to serve as a state representative. I am honored to have the opportunity to give back to the people who have given me so much.

My story may be unique, but my success as a Texas woman is not. I work daily surrounded by successful women. With female community leaders, CEOs, superintendents and managers throughout my community, I am not surprised Texas is such a shining star for how to do business.

For example, women-owned companies employ more people than the largest 500 companies combined. The U.S. Census Bureau surveys show California, Texas and New York are the top three states for growth in women-owned companies.

Additionally, women have come to form a solid majority of America’s college student population, and Texas universities are no exception.

Although there is always room for improvement, additional laws and regulations to demand equal pay are not the solution. Encouraging girls and young women to study STEM subjects and enter into technology-related fields will help increase the pay of women.

By educating our girls and teaching them that with dedication and hard work they can reach their goals, they too can write their own stories as strong Texas women.