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Millie Hughes-Fulford: Scientist in Space

"When SpaceX sends its next spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station on Dec. 16, along with M&M’s and khaki pants for the six astronauts, the rocket will also carry some 40 experiments. Among them will be a cooler with several vials of human cells, sent up by University of California-San Francisco molecular biologist and former astronaut Millie Hughes-Fulford."

Learn more about this remarkable scientist at QUEST

This week, India became the first Asian nation to reach Mars when its orbiter entered the planet’s orbit on Wednesday — and this is the picture that was seen around the world to mark this historic event. It shows a group of female scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) congratulating one another on the mission’s success. 

The picture was widely shared on Twitter where Egyptian journalist and women’s rights activist Mona El-Tahawy tweeted: “Love this pic so much. When was the last time u saw women scientists celebrate space mission?” 

In most mission room photos of historic space events or in films about space, women are rarely seen, making this photo both compelling and unique. Of course, ISRO, like many technical agencies, has far to go in terms of achieving gender balance in their workforce. As Rhitu Chatterjee of PRI’s The World observed in an op-ed, only 10 percent of ISRO’s engineers are female.

This fact, however, Chatterjee writes, is “why this new photograph of ISRO’s women scientists is invaluable. It shatters stereotypes about space research and Indian women. It forces society to acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of female scientists. And for little girls and young women seeing the picture, I hope it will broaden their horizons, giving them more options for what they can pursue and achieve.” 

To read Chatterjee’s op-ed on The World, visit http://bit.ly/1u3fvGZ

Photo credit: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

- A Mighty Girl

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Women in STEM of WWII - The real “Rosie Riveters”

In most countries women were not permitted to fight on the front lines of the war. Instead, they supported the war effort by learning, training and taking up jobs usually held by men.

These women did a lot more than rivet, they designed, built and tested thousands of aircraft in factories across Canada and the US.  Prior to the war, women would have been mostly banned from taking up such jobs.

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Sources: Library of Congress

I bring women into the things I’m doing because they absolutely are part and parcel of all of the storytelling and the science and the scientific discovery that we do. And little girls need more role models in critical thinking. Absolutely. But I also recognize that that’s not me. … I could be a little girl’s role model, but I’m not going to be her ideal role model. She needs a woman to do that.
If you meet a woman in a professional setting, like a conference (or the afterparty!), your first assumption should be that she’s there because she’s interested in the material. This seems obvious, but most women have had the unfortunate experience of being assumed to be “the marketing chick” or there with a boyfriend.

Under no circumstances should you ask a woman to prove her technical knowledge to you (even in jest).

Additionally, there’s a lot of implicit misogyny when you feign surprise upon discovering that a conventionally-attractive or feminine-presenting woman is also a geek. If you tell a woman approvingly that she’s “one of the guys” or “not like other women”, well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you’ve got some assumptions you need to rethink. (And I’m saying that as a woman who was proud to be called both of those things at one point.)

So, don’t say something like “Wow, I would never guessed you were a nerd!” Technical women often have to walk a fine line between looking properly “nerdy” (at the risk of coming across as sloppy) and looking put-together (but risking being taken less seriously).
Three 16 Year Old Girls Win Top Prize At Google Science Fair For Agricultural Research

The Grand Prize went to a team of three 16-year-old girls from Ireland: Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow. Their project, “Combating The Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria As A Cereal Crop Growth Promoter,” explored different bacterial strains that could shorten the germination time of cereal crops like oats and barley. Growing food is becoming monumentally important, as climate change threatens food crops, and the increasing global population is becoming incredibly demanding.”

Learn more from IFLScience!

I keep seeing a lot of things on my dashboard about Big Hero 6, and I saw the movie last night and honestly there’s one thing that stuck in my mind that I don’t think a lot of people understand was really important and potentially life changing in the movie. The first 20 minutes.

A lot of people don’t realize something about STEM majors, and that is that in the US while there is a lot of resistance from inside to keep those who don’t ‘fit’ out, there’s even more pressure from the peers of those who don’t fit not to join. The first 20 minutes show a diverse cast that DESTROYS the mold of the generic nerdy archetypes of scientists and shows the study and practice of science as something to be both fun and rewarding. 

This is huge. So many kids throw away their interests in STEM because they think they won’t fit in, or because they get shoved out by assholes who think that it’s only meant for a certain kind of people. But this movie shows that even if you’re a bubbly girl who enjoys fashion or a big muscly dude who looks like a linebacker or ANYBODY who looks like they won’t fit in, you can study the world around you and you’re gonna have a great fucking time.

The world needs scientists. We need engineers and thinkers and brilliant minds who aren’t afraid to challenge the unknown and we’ve been throwing away those minds by the bushel because they’re black or because they’re latino or because they’re women and this movie dared to put its foot down and say “No” to that. I’m tired of seeing kids who think that they aren’t right for those kinds of career paths because popular media portrays them as being for white males. I’m tired of hearing female friends of mine say they’re not good enough because STEM is male dominated. I’m tired of seeing so much potential be crushed because media shows us that the smart kid is never black or latino or if they’re asian they’re a shitty ass stereotype.

Big Hero 6 is showing kids across the world that it’s okay to love science, and anybody is allowed to do it, and right now that’s a message that needs to be spread as far as we can spread it. 

(On a side note, the way that they portrayed that first lab scene was perfect. There’s nothing like seeing someone show off their latest creation or invention or workaround for a common problem and the huge smile they get when it works and holy shit everything about that lab culture was 100% accurate minus a bit of screaming and frustration.)

Meet Marie Tharp the controversial geologist who produced the first ever map of the Ocean floor

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Meet Marie Tharp the controversial geologist who produced the first ever map of the Ocean floor. Her work completely turned geology upside down and proved that the ocean floor was not just a boring flat plane of mud but actually filled with extreme mountains, volcanos, canyons and moving masses. Her most controversial discovery is that of the Mid-Ocean Ridges, chains of moving mountains that cover the entire earth. At that time anyone who believed in plate tectonics or continental drift was considered an idiot, Marie’s work proved that they were in fact real.  ”I was so busy making maps I let them argue [….] there’s truth to the old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words and that seeing is believing.”

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So, that Computer Engineer Barbie book is making the rounds as the most hilariously backwards and sexist crap seen in recent memory. I thought I’d do my own parody piece to show girls what being a computer engineer is really like — shouting, swearing, and frustration. But, hey, at least Julie doesn’t ask some dude to program her shit for her.

(Full disclosure: I used to be an engineer myself. Also, yes, people call me Julie at home.)