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Women, Science and STEAM

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  • Female Scientist

Phil, Queen's Square | June 1, 2017

When I was a student at University I remember seeing posters in my Dean’s office that had a picture of a girl with the tagline “I want to be an Engineer just like my mom”. It was part of a campaign to raise the profile of the sciences (STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to young girls who would enter the field and break through the old boys’ club mentality that had been the de facto approach for decades. Clearly there is still room to improve.

Good thing that there is a number of good books celebrating the work that women have done in all the sciences over the past 100 years and beyond.

Three recent books highlight the unsung women of the field of mathematics and astronomy:Glass Universe tells the story of women scientists at Harvard University in the 19th and 20th Century. Hidden Figures explores the role African-American women have played in the development of NASA, and Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the story of the women who worked in the Jet Propulsion Labs.

The Glass Universe book coverHidden Figures book coverRise of the Rocket Girls Lab Girl book cover

On a more personal note, both Lab Girl (Hope Jahren's memoir of life as a botanist) and The Only Woman in the Room (eBook) are personal stories of sexism, how it has plagued the sciences, and the power of never giving up. 

For the young budding scientist, check out Trailblazers an overview of 52 women who have shaped and changed the field of science, or Ada’s Algorithm (eBook), the story of Ada Lovelace (Lord Byron’s daughter) who was an early pioneer in the field of mathematics and computer science.

Comments

Submitted by Patricia (not verified) on

Having worked as a geologist in the 1980's I can say that things have probably changed greatly since then. There were very few women geologists - in fact I was one of only a handful that worked in a medium-sized petroleum company in Alberta. Sitting an oil well meant staying offsite each night at a motel. Many men were very supportive, but others could be quite nasty. I'm glad the younger generation has it better. It was never nice to go into a coworkers office and see pin-ups on the walls or experience the sexual harassment that was very common.