Women in STEM & more!
Everything has a history and that includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, also known as STEM! This week, we want to celebrate all advances women have made in history – especially in fields where women are traditionally underrepresented. Although women make up over 50% of all professional workers, they are underrepresented particularly in computer and engineering jobs. (Source: Pew Research Center) For instance, women make up 13% of all engineers and 18% of computer scientists. (Source: University of Washington)
One of the organizations working hard to provide resources and avenues for women to enter STEM jobs is NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). They take pride in their women engineers, stating: “Women have always played a critical role in NASA’s history. Today, the women of NASA continue to lead and inspire in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). NASA is committed to recruiting and retaining women in STEM to help the agency continue to push boundaries to achieve the impossible.” (Source: NASA)
The importance of women in STEM started with pioneers like Katherine Johnson, who was one of the main engineers that gave essential calculations to help get astronauts like John Glenn (an Ohioan!) launch into space. In fact, John Glenn relied so heavily on Katherine Johnson that he refused to fly without her say-so. “As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.” (Source: NASA) Women like Katherine Johnson, among many others, paved the way for other underrepresented groups, regardless of background, gender and race, to enter into STEM jobs.
Is engineering a career that you or your students might be interested in? We sat down to chat with a current engineer at NASA who is working on the Artemis program, which aims to send the first women to the moon! Check out the interview here: https://tinyurl.com/eesycr99. To learn more about the Artemis program, visit https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/.
Below we’ve put together a list of resources to explore the history of women in STEM, NASA and more! Have a question or comment? Share it with us at [email protected].
Lessons & Resources: History of Women in STEM
- “Women in Science”, Britannica Encyclopedia, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Women-in-Science-2100321
- “Girls and Women in STEM”, Smithsonian Science Education Center, https://ssec.si.edu/girls-and-women-in-stem
- “The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology”, The Obama White House Archives, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/women-in-stem
- “Women in Space”, Susan Dominus, Smithsonian Magazine, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/unheralded-women-scientists-finally-getting-their-due-180973082/
- “Exploring the History of Women in STEM with Primary Sources”, Library of Congress, https://blogs.loc.gov/teachers/2020/03/exploring-the-history-of-women-in-stem-with-primary-sources/
- “13 Women in STEM Who Changed the World”, International Women’s Day, https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/7213/13-Women-in-STEM-Who-Changed-the-World
- “Changing the Curve: Women in Computing”, UC Berkeley School of Information, https://ischoolonline.berkeley.edu/blog/women-computing-computer-science/
Blog Post Image Citation: Judith Resnik conducting experiment photograph. Picture. Akron: 1984. Ohio History Connection: Judith Resnik Collection, https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll32/id/2999/rec/3. (accessed April 7, 2021)