Voices

The Importance of Having Women Role Models in STEM

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My personal mission: A world where every girl and woman has access to diverse and inclusive STEM role models. It is so important to have women role models in STEM that share their stories and inspire the belief that every young person can achieve anything they put their mind to – from every background, gender, age, belief, orientation, disability and ethnicity.

These stories can encourage and inspire more girls and women to believe they can pursue STEM. I am a strong believer that anyone can do STEM and you can do anything with STEM. However, I also think if you replace the word ‘STEM’ with any other word, the message is still the same, we need to encourage more women and girls to believe they can do anything. As a young girl growing up, I now realize the power and importance of having role models and how much they inspired me to study STEM in school and then pursue it as a career.

Math has played a massive role in my work and in who I am today. I am really passionate about showcasing how STEM and art – including fashion – can join together to innovate and have a positive impact on the world, solving issues that have been left unsolved for far too long. I created these watercolor portraits of women in STEM to showcase how STEM and art are interconnected and to make a statement that you can be interested in both subjects. I wanted to use these watercolor portraits of women in STEM as a medium to share stories of incredible women in STEM and their stories of perseverance, determination and innovation. My vision is to be able to donate a pack of watercolor women in STEM cards to every school, so every child will have access to diverse role models in STEM.

Role models such as:

Ada Lovelace, an English Mathematician who was the first to recognize that a mechanical machine could be used for calculations leading to what we now know as computers.

Mary Jackson, NASA’s first African-American female engineer, who played a vital role at NASA getting American astronauts into space. She worked for decades to increase the number of women working in scientific and mathematical industries.

Emmy Noether, a German Mathematician that contributed to abstract algebra and theoretical physics, described as the “most important woman in the history of mathematics.” The Association for Women in Mathematics holds a special event named after Noether every year.

Neena Gupta, an Indian mathematician and the youngest person ever to win the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize – which is the most prestigious scientific and mathematical award in India.

Hypatia, an Egyptian Mathematician who is recognized as the very first female mathematician whose life is recorded. She was a notable teacher and is seen as an icon for women’s rights and the feminist movement. Hypatia did extensive work on algebra and set out much of the work that would follow in more recent years.

These women are role models because they show the importance of being yourself and that STEM is for everyone. They are role models because of their determination, their support of others, how they tried and learned from their ‘failures’ time after time, and how much they wanted to (and did) change the world for the better. They show us you don’t need to fit into the “STEM” box and stereotypes (including gender stereotypes). Being yourself is where the magic happens and where the power lies.

These are just a few examples of women role models in STEM. Every single girl in the Girl Up Community is a role model with the power to make a huge difference for those around them. Women role models are so important as this translates into representation, and every single woman role model is contributing to the equal society and to the STEM industry that we deserve as girls and women – challenging what needs to be changed and demanding action from others. Every girl around the world has the power as a role model to change the world for the better and inspire others to do the same by being themselves and sharing their stories, dreams and actions. It is such an honor to be a part of this incredible community and to see the amazing change we are creating every single day in our communities.

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