Women account for half of the total college-educated workforce in the United States. However, in the STEM fields, only 28% of the workers are female. In engineering, that number drops to 15%. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT!
It always seem to be the men in history who are more remembered for their achievements than women: Henry Ford and the assembly line, Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone, Thomas Edison and the lightbulb. But what about the women who have made great contributions to their technical fields? Try to think of some female inventors, engineers or scientists off the top of your head. Marie Curie is the only one who immediately comes to my mind and her name is almost always followed by her husband Pierre’s. Perhaps you can think of more off the top of your head, but I can’t. Not without having to think really hard about it. The sad thing is, I didn’t even have to think twice while rattling off the men and I had several more lined up in my head that I could have written down. I am here to remind you, and myself, that there are many women, past, present and future, who have and will make incredible contributions to the technical fields. Here are a few that you should know by heart:
When you think of DNA, the first scientists’ names that come to mind are Watson and Crick, right? Well, Rosalind Franklin was just as responsible for the research that led to the understanding of DNA. Franklin was able to take x-ray photographs of the deoxyribose nucleic acid. A man that she worked with in her lab, Maurice Wilkins, showed these photos to James Watson, who beat Franklin to publication. Franklin should be credited alongside those names as one of the scientists who came the closest to solving the structure of DNA.
Rachel Carson should be one of those names that make you go “ohhh! I remember learning about her”. Carson is responsible for publicizing the dangers of fertilizers and pesticides to the environment. Her book, Silent Spring, shed light on the indiscriminate use of pesticides (like DTT, which was later banned) and their effects on the food chain. She is remembered as an early environmental activist who worked to preserve this planet for future generations.
This woman is Hedy Lamarr. This Austrian woman is responsible for co-inventing a “Secret Communications System” that helped to combat the Nazis in World War II. This machine manipulated radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception. This formed an unbreakable code which was able to prevent interception of classified information by enemy forces. Oh, and she was also a movie star. Nbd.
Hopefully, you will not forget the names of these women. They are a select few out of thousands of brilliant women. Encourage your animal-loving, star-gazing, curious-minded daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers to join the STEM fields! Ladies, we need you!