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.

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…

June 05, 2019

Women Engineers You Should Know

There are many women engineers whose lives, careers, and achievements might go unnoticed – yet each has a compelling, dynamic, and thought-provoking story. To celebrate their contributions and lives, SWE Magazine reached out on SWE’s social media channels, asking “Who are the women engineers we should know?” The SWE editorial board and SWE’s social media community have weighed in on the engineers you should know for 2019. We hope you gain insights, inspiration, and encouragement from them. This is our fifth installment of what has become an annual series. As with the previous installments, determining a final list was quite challenging, given the depth and breadth of the candidates, and our selections are not meant to be definitive. Read More…

May 28, 2019

Frances Arnold Turns Microbes Into Living Factories

The engineer’s mantra, said Frances Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, is: “Keep it simple, stupid.” But Dr. Arnold, who last year became just the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is the opposite of stupid, and her stories sometimes turn rococo. Take the happy images on her office Wall of Triumph. Here’s a picture of a beaming President Obama, congratulating Dr. Arnold in 2013 for winning the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Read More…

May 23, 2019

Marine biologist Sylvia Earle on why the ocean matters

Marine biologist Sylvia Earle has spent more than four decades at the forefront of ocean exploration — and at age 83, she shows no signs of slowing down. Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was named Time magazine’s 1998 “Hero of the Planet.” Earle offers her brief but spectacular take on passion for the ocean and the planet. Read More…

May 21, 2019

The most famous women in NASA history

Women have played crucial roles in NASA’s history of space exploration, from performing calculations to sending astronauts to the moon to launching into space themselves as mission specialists and commanders. Here are 15 women who became famous for their contributions to the science of space travel. Read More…

May 17, 2019

‘Knitting Is Coding’ and Yarn Is Programmable in This Physics Lab

On the eve of the American Physical Society’s annual March meeting, a Sunday “stitch ‘n bitch” session convened during happy hour at a lobby bar of the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. At the bar, amid tables cluttered with balls of yarn, Dr. Daniels absorbed design advice from a group of specialized knitters, among them Elisabetta Matsumoto, an applied mathematician and physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a co-host of the gathering. For Dr. Matsumoto, knitting is more than a handicraft hobby with health benefits. She is embarking on a five-year project, “What a Tangled Web We Weave,” funded by the National Science Foundation, to investigate the mathematics and mechanics of “the ancient technology known as knitting.” Read More…

May 05, 2019

Dear Hollywood, here are 5 female founders to showcase instead of Elizabeth Holmes

There’s a seemingly insatiable demand for Theranos content. John Carreyrou’s best-selling book, “Bad Blood,” has already inspired an HBO documentary, The Inventor; an ABC podcast called The Dropout, a prestige limited series starring SNL’s Kate McKinnon, was just announced; and Jennifer Lawrence is reportedly going to star in the feature film version of this tawdry “true crime meets tech” tale. That’s before getting started on the various and sundry cover stories and think pieces about her fraud. Instead, Hollywood could put the spotlight on women who pioneered the bleeding edge of tech and actually produced billion-dollar successes. Read More…