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Reflections: Forming and Modeling a STEM Identity
Elaine Nkwocha’s love of teaching and STEM began as a child growing up in Nigeria. She shares the journey that led her to teach science, provide mentorship, and advocate for girls and women in STEM.
Posted on 08 Jul 2024
This BlackAtNASA Trend is Out of this World
Who else is so inspired by the BlackAtNASA trend? Recently, Black employees have gone viral for posting their headshots at NASA. Black people are extremely underrepresented in STEM making up only 9% of the STEM workers in the US. At Girls Who Code, they’ve seen firsthand the impact positive representation can have on our students. However, these Black employees are shining a light on diverse representation in STEM using the viral hashtag BlackAtNASA. Learn more about these out-of-this-world Black women making waves in space.
Posted on 27 Jun 2024
Storymode Bae on Representation and Redefining Gaming
For all intents and purposes, Briana Williams is a professional gamer. The 28-year-old California native goes by Storymode Bae, a callback to her affinity for story-based video games, which she started playing at age 5. A '90s kid at heart, she's got a bubbly personality which she puts on full display on Twitch, alongside nostalgic paraphernalia like an OutKast Stankonia microphone cover, and rap-artist graphic tees. Williams was introduced to Twitch, the live-streaming platform popular among DJs and gamers, after a short stint on YouTube. Once there, she found a larger presence and constant engagement with her 20K-plus followers in real time. And as that engagement grew, so did Storymode Bae's income. Now, she broadcasts live four days a week, allowing followers to watch her game and interact with her. And though the stats will tell you nearly half of all gamers in the U.S. are women, the $159 billion industry's female creators hover around 20% - and we don't have to point out why Storymode Bae stands out in the Twitch crowd.
Posted on 27 Jun 2024
Vanessa Wyche Leads The Way At NASA, Destigmatizing Firsts And Advancing Diversity In STEM Fields
Vanessa Wyche is leading the way at NASA and made history in the process. Since 1989, the South Carolina native, with a Bachelor of Science in materials engineering and a Master of Science in bioengineering from Clemson University, has worked at the U.S. government agency. Her first role was as a project engineer managing several space shuttle missions, as previously reported by AFROTECH™. Wyche was fueled by her interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and has continued to rise in the ranks with her titles having included director, CX program operations and test integration (2010-2011); director, exploration integration and science (2016-2018); and deputy director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center (2018-2021), according to her LinkedIn profile. In 2021, she was appointed as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and has maintained that title since. Her responsibilities include leading human spaceflight missions, the nation’s astronaut corps, International Space Station mission operations, and the Orion Program, Texas Public Radio mentions.
Posted on 07 Jun 2024
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: Dark Matter Expert and Advocate for Women of Color in STEM
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein could not have a first name more perfect for who she is and what she does. Chanda, a Sanskrit word in The Yoga Sutra (the authoritative text on yoga), means “moon” and the idea that if one concentrates on the moon, one obtains knowledge of the stars. Fittingly, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is an associate professor of physics and astronomy, as well as a core faculty member in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. Her name aptly reflects her research in cosmology and particle physics. More specifically, her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and dark matter (DM). She is also a researcher in Black-feminist science, technology, and society studies. Among her recent roles, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was a co-convener of Dark Matter: Cosmic Probes in the Snowmass 2021 particle-physics community-planning process and a National Academies Elementary Particles: Progress and Promise decadal committee member. She created the Cite Black Women+ in Physics and Astronomy Bibliography. In addition, this talented scientist has gotten attention for her advocacy work. Nature recognized Dr. Prescod-Weinstein as one of 10 people who shaped science in 2020, and Essence magazine has recognized her as one of “15 Black Women Who Are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers.” A co-creator of the Particles for Justice letter against sexism in particle physics and of the 2020 Strike for Black Lives, she received the 2017 LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award for her contributions to improving conditions for marginalized people in physics, as well as the 2021 American Physical Society Edward A. Bouchet Award for her contributions to particle cosmology.
Posted on 27 May 2024
Bumble boss: What women in tech can learn from me
Not many chief executives in tech are the daughter of a mechanic and a cleaner.
But Lidiane Jones, the boss of the online dating app, Bumble, says that is not what really marks her out: it is the fact she is not a man. "It's still not an equitable journey for women today", she tells me of her path from her modest upbringing in São Paulo, in Brazil, to the boardroom. If anyone wants to follow in her footsteps, she says, they need to turn the obstacles in business and tech that women continue to face to their advantage. "My biggest advice is use this resilience that we have to build, especially as women, because opportunities are harder," she says. "It's not necessarily an easy or linear journey. I've had to really be resourceful."Ms Jones brings more than 20 years of technical expertise in software engineering and product management to the role. But despite having already been vice-president at Sonos and chief executive of Slack, she says the path to success for women in the technology sector is often riddled with hurdles and setbacks - not least the lack of representation.
Posted on 08 May 2024
Lessons in Leadership
An engineering membership organization is seeing a high representation of women in leadership positions. Why is that, and what lessons can be learned from this example? Among the biggest obstacles affecting efforts to diversify the engineering profession are the barriers to advancement that women face in their careers. The low representation of women in leadership can easily be seen in government and in the corporate world, within science and engineering sectors, and in non-STEM spheres. McKinsey’s annual Women in the Workplace report highlights the continued attrition of women along the leadership pipeline (McKinsey & Company, 2023). Coupled with the low numbers of women who enter engineering and technology professions to begin with, women are few and far between in the leadership ranks in STEM organizations. In engineering specifically, researchers have found that women seek employers who support their growth potential and offer an empowering work culture (Society of Women Engineers, 2019). When women do not find this, they will seek out these opportunities elsewhere (Fouad et al., 2012; Kelly Services, 2016). In 2023, SWE conducted a study with an engineering organization interested in understanding why their leadership ranks seemed to have higher-than-expected gender diversity. Process Industry Practices, or PIP, is an organization focused on developing technical standards and best practices for companies in engineering and construction industries. Women represent only 14% of working engineers in the United States, and while PIP’s volunteer base shares a similar gender profile, women hold approximately half of their leadership positions.
Posted on 30 Apr 2024
Networking for Women in Tech: Tips & Opportunities
The benefits of networking include access to career opportunities, professional support and connections, exposure to new technologies and more. In fact, according to research by Zippia, 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking with connections and 79 percent of Americans agree that networking plays a vital role in their career progression. Despite the evidence, many tech professionals who identify as women feel uncomfortable networking or don’t really know how to about it, so they avoid it altogether. "The difficulty stems from the fact that women tend to be underrepresented in technology and many networking events and after-work activities have traditionally been geared toward men and their interests," acknowledged Julie Elberfeld, a former CIO, now CEO of Women Who Code, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring women to succeed in technology. Fortunately, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, if you follow the advice of women who have overcome these obstacles and used networking to achieve remarkable career success. If you're looking for inspiration - here are stories from women in tech who took the plunge into networking.
Posted on 10 Apr 2024
Top Engineering Podcasts
With so many inspiring Engineering stories and podcasts it is tricky to know where to start, to solve that problem Born to Engineer has put together their favourite Engineering themed podcasts for you. Their Engineering Podcast list will feature the best, informative, humorous, thought-provoking, and (hopefully) mind-blowing podcasts. Podcasts are perfect for delivering science, technology, engineering, and math news and stories. They are ideal format to get both students and teachers inspired and allow you to connect with those that are improving people’s lives through Engineering.
Posted on 10 Apr 2024
Inspiring Interest in STEM
Engineering leaders have discovered creative, engaging, and sustainable ways to educate students about STEM. And it’s all about the fun. The days of boring STEM activities for children are over, thanks to creative thinkers who are constantly devising new ways to attract youth. Using everything from contests and rewards to role models, teamwork, individual learning, and even art, STEM experts are innovating fun and challenging activities to engage young students. Many are simple and sustainable, using little more than paper, tape, and household items, and most can be taught at any age and made easier or more difficult as needed. Mary Isaac, a mechanical engineer in the San Diego metropolitan area who holds a Ph.D. in STEM education, has designed and evaluated STEM activities for 15 years. She said she likes to keep things as simple as possible. “One of my favorite activities uses construction paper and tape to build a tower capable of holding books,” she said. The tower is built by making supports of rolled paper, taped together, and plastic cafeteria-type trays or baking sheets for the floor, then placing books (or other weights) on top of the structure to test its strength. “If you’re not in the classroom, you can use canned food instead of books,” she said. “It’s one of those things that gets them thinking about the fun that comes with testing, when they see if they can hold 20 pounds of stuff with just paper. “The goal is to build the cheapest, strongest structure, so it is a ratio of how much it costs (how many sheets, how much tape) to how much load it can bear - a minimum of about two pounds,” Dr. Isaac said. The activity teaches the concepts of force, stress, and area, Dr. Isaac said, and is popular with students from elementary school to college age. Older students’ designs are more complex. “They tend to start thinking more critically; they want to argue about the rules and constraints. So, I give them the [engineering] rules so they can find the ones they can break or not, or how to work around the rules.” Dr. Isaac always stresses that whatever they are designing must meet what she calls the “four Fs”: fit, form, function, and frills - and frills can only be added after the students make their structure or device work.
Posted on 26 Mar 2024

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