October 08, 2015
Getting more women and girls interested in STEM fields is the unfinished business of the 20th century, according to Hillary Clinton. “We must focus on how we can help women and girls break through ceilings that hold them back,” she said in a recent speech at San Jose University. The good news for girl scientists, engineers and mathematicians: they now have female role models and advocates everywhere from Silicon Valley, to Hollywood, to the White House. These 10 women are rocking careers in STEM and proving that STEM isn’t just a man’s world after all:
Like mother, like daughter! The former First Daughter has a mission: make STEM careers cool for girls. Clinton frequently travels around the country to host events aimed at getting girls psyched about closing the STEM gender gap. “We’re going to have more than a million jobs created in STEM fields over the next decade,” Clinton said in a recent interview in Teen Vogue, “and the only way we’re going to fill those jobs with the best and brightest is to not leave a gender behind.”
When Brittany Wenger was fifteen, her cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two years later, the girl computer whiz designed an artificial brain to detect signs of this devastating disease that took home first prize in the 2012 Google Science Fair! Today, she is a computer science major at Duke University. Her breast cancer test, which has its own app, is now in beta tests with two cancer research centers.
Dr. Jenna Carpenter, the Dean for the School of Engineering at Campbell University in North Carolina, blows people away with how she encourages girls to study engineering in college! She regularly advises and speaks to schools and businesses about diversity, mentoring, and professional development for women in engineering. Check out Carpenter’s TEDX Talk about how to encourage girls to study math and engineering in college. Girl scientists, engineers and mathematicians now have female role models and advocates everywhere from Silicon Valley, to Hollywood, to the White House.
GoldieBlox, the brainchild of Debbie Sterling, has been called “the lady engineer who hopes to unseat the princesses from their toy-store thrones.” This interactive book series and construction set uses an awesome girl inventor who solves everyday problems—like how to help her dog chase his tail—through building simple machines. The idea came to Sterling as an engineering major at Stanford, where she was struck by the lack of women in her program.
Mayim Bialik doesn’t just play a neuroscientist on “The Big Bang Theory.” She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, taught for several years, wrote a book for parents about the science of hormones, and has given public lectures about the importance of investing in STEM careers and research. “I arrived late to science, actually,” Bialik recently told CNBC. “It wasn’t something I had a natural affinity for, and growing up, I always thought it was for boys.”
According to this renowned NASA astrobiologist, we may settling other planets in as little as 10 to 20 years! First stop: Mars. More awesome women in STEM at NASA: Deborah Diaz is NASA’s chief technology officer for IT, and Teresa Vanhooser runs one of NASA’s largest facilities in the U.S. responsible for building rockets. ‘”We are here, we are doing amazing science, and we are the role models for the next generation of STEM girls,” says Stofan.
She had 14 job offers after graduating in 1999 with a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford University and chose to originally work at Google during a spring break period in which, she told CNN, she made all the decisions she is most proud of. “Those decisions all had two things in common: I always surrounded myself with the smartest people I could find, because they make you think about things harder… And I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow.”
The Tufts University professor of Engineering is known as the “Princess Warrior” of Engineering and Science education. She’s the founder of Nerd Girls: the global movement which celebrates “smart-girl” individuality in science, technology, engineering and math.
Who says that math isn’t cool? Danica McKellar, who you may remember from “The Wonder Years” or “The West Wing,” is all about saying loud and proud that she loves math. She’s the author of Kiss my Math, Math Doesn’t Suck, and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, all math-focused books for girls. “I would love to inspire the next generation of mathematicians and scientists,” McKellar said in a recent interview with NPR. “But my main goal is to give girls the confidence that comes from feeling smart… knowing that they can handle challenges. So whether it be a difficult math problem or something else, they can say, wow, I’m not sure if I can do that, and then they work at it, they persevere and they overcome it.”
Molecular biologist Jennifer Lopez is leading NASA in boldly going where no one at the space agency has gone before: to make sense of the vast amount of data it collects through satellites, telescopes, robots, spacecraft and laboratories, among other means. Lopez spearheaded the founding class of “datanauts,” data scientists who will pioneer new insights from the exponentially growing repository of data that includes technical and scientific datasets, records, reports, simulations, videos, images and other information. The best part: all datanauts are women!
1. STEM Women
Girl Power Factor: This site is chockfull of articles, opinion pieces, and video interviews aimed at “fixing the leaky pipeline” of getting young women into STEM careers. The site and content managers are all women in STEM—and awesome role models. Just one example: Dr. Buddhini Samarasinghe is a molecular biologist working on cancer research, a community moderator for Science on Google+ and Advances in Medicine and Biology, and she is a co-curator for Science Sunday.
Here’s a great video interview with Professor Chad Forbes, a social neuroscientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. He’s lluminating research on how stereotypes undermine the success of women in STEM.
Girl Power Factor: This eye-popping collection of interviews, articles and contests was designed, in part, by girls into engineering for girls into engineering. There’s currently an advisory board of 135 girls in 28 states that give input to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Engineer Girl is part of an NAE project to bring national attention to the opportunity that engineering represents to all people at any age, but particularly to women and girls.
One of the many things we love about Engineer Girl is the array of opportunities for students, engineers, parents, and educators to get involved and build community. After all, it really does take a village!
3. Society of Women Engineers
Girl Power Factor: This is the place for young women considering careers in STEM to make their dreams come true. Society of Women Engineers magazine keeps women of all ages interested in engineering fields connected. There are opportunities for scholarships, mentoring, and plenty of inspiration for girls studying engineering.
SWE creates a true global community with video interviews of women in STEM in other countries with a special program for young women engineers-in-training studying abroad.
Girl Power Factor: Where else could you find an interview an astrophysics student, career advice from the CEO and Founder of Pink Petro, and the latest tweets from Girls Who Code and Latinas in STEM—all on the same page? Created in 2010 by software developer Ann Hoang, STEMinist has a goal of increasing the visibility of women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math.
This interview with Katie Mehnert, CEO and Founder of Pink Petro, is developing the first and only global social media channel for women in energy and their advocates.
5.Math Doesn’t Suck
Girl Power Factor: Actress and math whiz Danica McKeller proves that math is cool! You may know Danica from “The Wonder Years.” She’s also the author of Math Doesn’t Suck, Kiss My Math or Hot X: Algebra Exposed, or Girls Get Curves.
This awesome quiz is aimed at making girls more aware of how they dumb down–especially around guys they’re crushing on.
6. Girls Who Code
Girl Power Factor: This site is all about building a sisterhood of girls in grades 6-12 who are all about STEM in general, computer science in specific. Girls Who Code offers a 7-week intensive computer science course at technology companies and universities nationwide, school clubs, and networking opportunities galore.
Girls Who Code Clubs have launched nationally in over 25 states, helping thousands of girls in grades 6-12 learn how to code and build community with their sister computer science enthusiasts.
7. Million Women Mentors
Girl Power Factor: This inspiring site is all about matching young women in STEM to mentors. MWM has assembled more than 58 partners, 30 sponsors, and 30 state leadership teams that reach more than 30 million girls and women. Over 200,000 pledges to mentor girls and women in STEM have been entered to date!
8. Nerd Girls
Girl Power Factor: We give this website two huge thumbs-up! The mission of Nerd Girl Clubs is “to encourage other girls to change their world through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, while embracing their feminine power.” The first club was the brain-child of Dr. Karen Panetta, a professor at Tufts University, to empower her female engineering students and challenge the stereotypes and myths about women in engineering. Nerd Girl Clubs nationwide have have conducted outreach events to over 85,000 youth, parents, educators and communities!
A long list of scholarships for young women in STEM. (Need we say more?!)