Petra Ronald will get into your head. In fact, not only will she get into your head, but she will beat the pants off of you in sports, while schooling you in behavioural science.
We loved meeting Petra this summer as we were kickstarting Fibonacci Sequins. The tiny, blonde PM showed up in heels so high that it made Dona nervous, and she navigated the rocky path we wanted to take pictures expertly, ahead of the two of us. During our photoshoot, we got to know Petra a bit more and absolutely loved her quote “Well behaved women never make history”.
No danger of that here at Fibonacci Sequins! Read on to see more of this awesome young woman who is definitely out to make history.
Tell us a little about you.
I am currently a computer science major at Duke University, but I first fell in love with computer science when I was a freshman in high school. My teacher was amazing and crazy: the kind of crazy that walks around with a light saber during tests and dances on desks while singing the Pokemon theme song.
Craziness aside, we always made GUIs with our projects, and I loved the creativity of making the layout and designing the user interface. Today, I am still interested in user experience and hopefully will be able to make a career out of it as a PM.
Outside of computer science, I am a movie buff-Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd are my absolute favorite actors, and I can watch Old School and Role Models ten times in a row without getting bored. Besides being lazy though and binge watching Netflix, I love playing sports. In fact, I have always described myself as a tomboy – well, a tomboy whose favorite color is pink and who has a passion for heels because, come on, I think we all know throwing a football in heels is much more impressive anyway.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
The jeans+blazer combo is an outfit that I would wear to work; it’s a little dressier and more polished than the usual T-shirt and jeans combo of a software dev.
As for where the clothing came from-I’m pretty sure the whole outfit with the exception of the heels is from Express, one of my favorite stores. The shoes are from Jessica Simpson’s line. (Note: Dona has almost the same ones and they are *freaky* comfortable for being so high!)
The second outfit is new but already a favorite of mine. I love rompers because they work for any occasion. With flip flops, this romper could be extremely casual, but with heels, the outfit turns into something I feel sexy in and wear when I am going out. I don’t know where the romper is from, but the bralette is from Victoria’s Secret, and I mean, you can’t go wrong with anything there.
The Tiffany necklace I paired with the romper is important to me; it was a gift when I was about ten or twelve, and it continues to be my favorite necklace now.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
Since I went to Catholic school for elementary and middle school and had to wear a uniform, I didn’t really follow fashion trends. It wasn’t until I went to public school for high school that I finally was able to dress the way I wanted to.
My style then, however, was definitely a little out there. My wardrobe was made up of bright colored Abercrombie or Aeropostale clothing, and since I was so small and everything still fit me, some outdated clothes from when I was probably 10. Yet, I always dressed for success and heels were/are my absolute favorite. In fact, I remember people repeatedly asking me why I wore heels to school, but I would just think, “Well, why not.”
In college, however, Victoria’s Secret became my favorite brand. I mean rolling up to class in sweats and a T-shirt just seemed like the biggest time saver. I still like to dress up though, and when I’m not in sweats or yoga pants, I’ll usually be in heels.
Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
My all-time favorite quote that I try to live is “Well behaved women never make history”.
Don’t ever let anyone deter you from what you’re passionate about, but, at the same time, understand that there will be obstacles. For me, in particular, I feel like my obstacle is that I am constantly trying to overcome the dumb blonde stereotype. Because I am aware of this stereotype and because women are such a minority in the CS field, I find myself not speaking up in class and not contributing as much as I could be. And guess what? A lot of women feel the same way. I don’t understand why I get so nervous to voice my opinion or to ask a question, and I get angry at myself for feeling this way. I guess I feel that I need to be right all the time in order to prove that I, a woman-a BLONDE woman, can be just as smart as any other student. But this kind of thinking is a disadvantage. I learn so much more when I ask questions and actively contribute to discussion.
Thus, my advice to you girls is to never doubt your worth and your intelligence. You are in your position for a reason. Your questions and opinions are just as reasonable as any other. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”
If you see other women struggling, help each other out! When women really stand by and team up together, we can overcome any obstacle.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
When I was in high school, I was in a program that required us to do 360 hours of scientific research at a nearby college. I’m deeply interested in behavior and oppose the sexualization of women in the media and so I did my project on how the media affects an adolescent’s perpetration and acceptance of sexual harassment. I looked at how often an adolescent watched television and what types of television they watched, and I found that the more reality television an individual watched (Jersey Shore type television), the more likely an individual was to accept sexual harassment as normal, perpetrate sexual harassment, and believe in gender stereotypes.
I had a great time researching this subject because I feel that a lot still needs to be done about how women are presented in the media, and (not to be nerdy) I placed 4th in the Behavioral Sciences category at Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair). When I received that award, I was just astonished and amazed. It was really rewarding to know that other people were listening and cared about this matter.
“Not to be nerdy”, she says. 5 seconds after meeting Petra,the concept of a “dumb blonde” becomes laughable. We love her daringness with her career choices, her life and her fashion. We love that she reiterates what has quickly become the motto of Fibonacci Sequins: never doubt your worth and your intelligence. You are in your position for a reason. Your questions and opinions are just as reasonable as any other.
We absolutely cannot wait to see what she does this year!
Dona & Beth