STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, has long been a field that is seen to be dominated by men. However, many organisations and individuals have been making a big push to get women and girls involved. According to UNESCO data only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, maths and statistics (5%) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (7%).
To raise awareness, and to celebrate the UN’s International Women and Girls in Science Day, here are three women who are trailblazers in Science.
Named Time Magazine’s Kid of the Year in 2020, Gitanjali has astounded the world with her use of technology to battle issues of the modern world, such as bullying, contaminated drinking water, and opioid addiction. Her Chrome extension Kindly, gives young people the option to edit their messages they send online, if it picks up a world that is considered bullying. She is helping children and young people to have their own judgement, and develop their character in a non-punishing way.
At 15, she already has her sights on creating a community of young innovators to tackle these issues, and more. Using her intellect to empower her giving spirit to help others, she encourages other young people to do the same; “don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you.”
At 18, Alyssa Carson is set to be the youngest person in space. An astronaut in training, she’s got her eye on the first mission to Mars. She’s the youngest person to have graduated from the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission’s space camp program, and now has a pilots license to boot. Currently, Alyssa is studying astrobiology, and has NASA firmly in her sights, as she has completed their Passport Program, in visiting all fourteen centres across a total of nine states.
She has used her growing platform to encourage girls to pursue STEM in their education and careers, giving TED talks and writing ‘So, You Want to bean Astronaut?’.
A young voice like hers, talking openly about being in science, and encouraging other young girls to follow suit should they wish is incredibly empowering, and will be inspiring to many.
Nina Tandon is founder and CEO of her company EpiBone. It works to grow bones for patients facing reconstruction surgery. Her company enables bones to be grown from the patient’s stem cells in a lab, to replace broken or damaged bones. The fact that they originate from stem cells means that the body won’t later reject the bone, ensuring a safer recovery for the patient. Additionally, the bone can grow and change, so it is suitable for surgeries on younger patients, as it will develop with their body.
Tandon is using this same technology to create beating hearts, too. What this can mean for the future of medicine is exciting and ground breaking, and she speaks publicly about her work and empowers women and girls in the process.
In our Young Leaders Awards, we look at both men and women role models, and ask pupils to reflect on why these leaders are just that -leaders. By looking at qualities such as leadership, character, and community empowerment, young people can discern who are good role models to look up to, which can inspire them for years to come.
Image credit: Getty Images for MAKERS