Women in STEM News

“If women and girls don’t see themselves on screen as STEM professionals, they’re less likely to pursue those career paths.”

-Geena Davis

Here's the latest on the Women in STEM.

July 09, 2019

The woman who mapped the moon: An Arizona geologist and the Apollo 17 lunar landing

Baerbel Lucchitta talked about how luck played a role in her career as a planetary geologist, but hers was a case of someone making their own luck. Lucchitta did just that when she was a young mapmaker working on the Apollo moon missions with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology branch in Flagstaff. She was one of the first women to work in that field and forged a remarkable career in science. Read More…

July 05, 2019

How Poppy Northcutt cracked NASA’s boys’ club and became a feminist icon

While NASA was busy making history by getting men ever closer to the moon, a quieter revolution was taking place in its Mission Control’s Planning and Analysis room. There, in a sea of slide rules and Y chromosomes, sat Francis “Poppy” Northcutt, NASA’s first female Mission Control engineer. Starting in 1965, Northcutt conducted trajectory analysis for Apollo missions 8-17, from the first crewed mission to leave Earth’s orbit through the final moonwalk. Read More…

July 03, 2019

The First Black Woman to Earn a Physics PhD From University of Glasgow Just Graduated

It’s 2019, and white men still, largely, hold the power in many areas of society. So when a black woman shatters every glass ceiling in her way, it’s particularly exciting. Monifa Phillips, PhD, did just that when she graduated from University of Glasgow’s School of Physics as the first ever black woman to earn a PhD there. Phillips tweeted out her accomplishment on June 30, showing herself in her academic regalia and holding her thesis. But Phillip’s achievement isn’t special just because it’s a first, it’s particularly sweet because she made it happen for herself. Read More…

July 02, 2019

At 21, Ann Montgomery Became a Lead Engineer at NASA, Managing the Cameras and Other Crucial Gear Used on the Moon

he army of workers who made NASA’s Apollo program possible, sending a human being to the moon for the first time, included hundreds of thousands of people—from the doctors who screened the astronauts to the crawler-transporter drivers who towed the Saturn V rocket to the launch pad. And among the nearly endless tasks that had to be completed for the Apollo lunar landing, one woman spearheaded a critical engineering project: testing all the small gear the astronauts would take with them to the moon. Read More…

July 02, 2019

California’s 1st Surgeon General Spotlights Health Risks Of Childhood Adversity

Not long after she finished her medical residency at Stanford University about a decade ago, Nadine Burke Harris got to work as a pediatrician in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. She founded and became CEO of a clinic there, focused on addressing health disparities in the community. It was in talking with those children and their families, she says, that she first realized how many of her patients experiencing the worst health outcomes — those with the highest levels of chronic asthma, for example — were also living with significant adversity, such as growing up in a household where a parent was mentally ill, abusive or substance dependent. Read More…

June 26, 2019

The eccentric engineer: the highs and lows of Bessie Coleman, America’s first black female pilot

To say Bessie Coleman was born into deprivation would be an understatement. Her parents were sharecroppers in late 19th-century Texas, picking cotton and taking in laundry to get by, and she was the 12th of 13 children. Bessie’s father was Native American Cherokee while her mother was African American, so almost every door to improvement was closed to them. Not that this put her off. She became the first person of African-American and of Native American descent to be awarded an international pilot licence by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Read More…

June 24, 2019

Saydean Zeldin: Guiding Apollo’s engines

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was a miracle of engineering. For its time, it was a masterpiece. The size of a suitcase when most computers took up entire rooms, the AGC performed tasks that were designed wholly from scratch and on which human lives depended. NASA used it on nine lunar flights and six lunar landings, and continued to use it on Skylab, the first space station. But for a woman who helped program the AGC, Saydean Zeldin started off as green as any new hire. “I was a little afraid of those darn computers at the time,” she recalls from her first days on the Apollo program. And with good reason: They were a far cry from today’s touch-screen technology and natural language processing. Read More…

June 17, 2019

Replacing Plastic: Can Bacteria Help Us Break The Habit?

If civilizations are remembered for what they leave behind, our time might be labeled the Plastic Age. Plastic can endure for centuries. It’s everywhere, even in our clothes, from polyester leisure suits to fleece jackets. A Silicon Valley startup is trying to get the plastic out of clothing and put something else in: biopolymers. A polymer is a long-chain molecule made of lots of identical units. Polymers are durable and often elastic. Plastic is a polymer made from petroleum products. But biopolymers occur often in nature — cellulose in wood or silk from silkworms — and unlike plastic, they can be broken down into natural materials. Molly Morse manufactures biopolymers that she hopes will replace some kinds of plastic. She runs a small company called Mango Materials. Read More…

June 06, 2019

Astrophysicist explains how boxing makes her a better scientist

A doctor once told Federica Bianco he had trouble imagining someone who looked like her doing astrophysics. At the time, he was stitching her hand, which she had cut while cooking. She recalls having to ponder her reaction. “On one hand, I didn’t really want him to poke my hand through. On the other hand, I thought that was a really enraging comment,” she said. “I don’t like being told that I cannot do things and I kind of want to … react to that by showing that I can.” Bianco is an astrophysicist at the University of Delaware, as well as a professional boxer, with four wins and one loss. Read More…

June 06, 2019

27 Women Leading the Charge to Protect Our Environment

Scientists have called our current, climate change–threatened era the Anthropocene, but as the eco-economist Kate Raworth once joked, women are left out of the narrative so often that it sometimes feels like the Manthropocene. Presenting 27 standouts who prove that women are leading the charge to protect our environment and our future. Read More…

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