Black Woman Engineer Says She Intentionally Wears Her Braids In The Science Lab

More and more Black women are unapologetically flaunting their Black hairstyles in their work environments.

Fionnghuala “Fig” O’Reilly is a 29-year-old Black engineer making an impact in the STEM industry as she sports her braided hair in the science lab.

According to Yahoo Life, O’Reilly, born to an American mother and Irish father, intentionally wears her hair in cornrows in an effort to amplify inclusion in the STEM workforce.

“Representation is so impactful for the next generation, and I intentionally do make the effort to show up [as] myself in these spaces where we’re not often seen at all,” she told the outlet.

The engineer posted a photo of herself on Twitter, earlier this December, rocking some fresh cornrows while in the lab.


Her post went viral and many social media users began to share their thoughts and experiences on Black hairstyles in the workplace.

O’Reilly said she “was very glad to see that so many people were proud and happy and felt inspired. Those were the messages that meant so much to me, because it did reach so many.”

She is a correspondent on CBS’s Mission Unstoppable with Miranda Cosgrove, a show that spotlights women who work in various STEM careers.

“The goal of this show is to show women across various fields of STEM and what it looks like to work in their job and one thing that is important to us on the show is showcasing women of a variety of backgrounds. So I do intentionally show up as myself as I normally would with my hair in a wide array of natural hair styles, because that’s how I show up in life,” O’Reilly told Yahoo Life.

O’Reilly previously challenged society’s beauty standards while competing for Miss Universe Ireland in 2019, wearing her natural curls instead of straightening her hair for the competition.

“I think people are realizing now more than ever, why this work is important, why showing up as a woman in STEM, just as myself is important. And if that inspires others I hope that it brings more women into the fold.”

O’Reilly has extended her passion for inclusion by recruiting and mentoring Black women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).