Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com over the course of the year. Sophia Liu has been nominated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of msnbc’s “Women in Politics” series, these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women in Politics” features newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, and deep dives into the key conversations, including a series on "Women Leaders Bridging Tech and Politics in 2016."
From the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten to liberal arts colleges and beyond, young women are making a difference across the country – meet them here!
Name: Sophia Liu
School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hometown: Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Concentration: Chemical Engineering and Biology, minoring in Literature
Role in student government, organizations: Undergraduate Association, current Vice President
Dream job: Finding the answers to interesting scientific questions as a researcher and then teaching those answers and sharing knowledge as a professor!
Class year: 2017
Why did you get involved in student government?
I became involved in student government my freshman year, when I was elected the vice president of my class council. I decided to run for two reasons: because I wanted to meet more MIT students, and because I hoped to start giving back to a community that I treasured and believed was incredibly special. I’ve always been overenthusiastic about MIT, and am grateful for the support and opportunities that I have found here.
My sophomore and junior years, I transitioned to the Undergraduate Association to work on policies affecting students, and to expand my efforts outside of my class year, to issues that affect MIT students as a whole. I found myself wanting to improve the state of mental health at MIT, increase diversity, and work on the slew of other things that students wanted to see changed (or, in many cases, kept the same). The Undergraduate Association was the place to do it.
Do you plan to vote in the primary and/or November presidential elections this year?
Absolutely! I have had Hillary Clinton’s autobiography sitting on my bookshelf since well before she announced her campaign.
Do you think it's important that there is an equal representation of women members in Congress? Why or why not?
Of course – considering that there are issues that affect women uniquely, especially women’s health and income equality, a body that forms legislation needs to have significant input from the constituents that the legislation is targeted towards.
Has feminism played a role in your life? If so, how?
I remember in high school being the only girl on my Science Olympiad team to attend our national competition. In STEM, this sort of thing is not uncommon. People joke all the time about how women are less adept in science, and I have seen female scientists discouraged, overlooked, or dismissed all the time.
Furthermore, as a female leader, it took me a long time to gain the confidence to give my opinion, let alone command a room. For me, being a feminist means standing up for myself, and other women, whenever I hear a comment that is derogatory towards women. It means encouraging women to get involved in leadership and in science, and, generally, whatever else they may want to do.
For example, I see women in student government apologize all the time. I’ve found myself doing this, as well, but when a woman interjects in conversation, and I hear, “I’m sorry, but I think that…” I try to make a point that every person’s idea is valuable.
What's your favorite go-to for reading/watching the latest news?
I read the New York Times daily on my phone (they also have a fun mini-crossword that I strongly recommend), and have started to try out the Fair Observer, which was a recommendation from someone at our student newspaper, the Tech, that provides more perspectives on various topics.
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com