This week’s Mead Bookish Bingo challenge uses a couple of anagrams in order to fit on the game square, so let’s start there. If you are unfamiliar, BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and this week’s challenge is specifically about BIPOC women in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Pictured above is Dr. Mae C. Jemison: physician, engineer, scientist, and NASA astronaut. Jemison was also the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
STEM fields are male-dominated, and like artists, many women in STEM receive recognition posthumously. One famous example is Ada Lovelace. Ada Lovelace is now credited with being the first computer programmer because of the algorithm she created to be carried out by a machine, Charles Babbage’s analytical engine—a predecessor of the electronic computer which was invented over one hundred years before the first modern computer was built.
Lovelace was not a woman of color, but she is a notable woman of STEM and is the namesake of the international holiday Ada Lovelace Day (ALD). ALD is recognized worldwide on the second Tuesday in October to raise the profile of women in STEM and celebrate their achievements. The intention is to inspire more women and girls to pursue their interests and careers in STEM. For more information on ALD and events taking place, check out findingada.com.
Women of color are even less represented and acknowledged than white women for their achievements, so I’d like to spotlight a few more STEM superstars that everyone should know.
Among the many women of note in “Born Curious”, Dr. Patricia Era Bath was both a physician and inventor who created the Laserphaco Probe—the machine that uses lasers to remove cataracts from eyes. Read more about Dr. Bath and her many other accomplishments, including being one of the first black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame!
Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer, astronaut and was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman and Muslim recipient to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the Nobel for architecture. Hadid was also the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal.
While “Women in Science” is chock-full of amazing female scientists, Chien-Shiung Wu should be particularly noted as a Chinese-American physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of nuclear and particle physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.
In my search to discover the best and most current books on women in STEM to share with you, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there are not very many full-length biographies for adults written about women and their successes in STEM fields, particularly BIPOC women. Are you listening writers?
In the meantime, here are a few additional titles that include brief biographies on many influential women in STEM: “Wonder Women” by Sam Maggs, “Women in Space” by Karen Bush Gibson, “Twentieth Century Women Scientists” by Lisa Yount, “Women Who Dared” by Linda Skeers, and “Women of Steel and Stone” by Anna M. Lewis.
And if you haven’t read it or seen the movie, yet, check out “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Just do it! It’s amazing.
One last thing. I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my absolute favorite fall events: Mead Public Library’s Tea & Tech: Girls’ STEM Day coming up on October 23. This virtual program is open to girls ages 8-17 and will feature NASA Langley Research Center’s Dr. Julia Cline, Gearbox Lab’s Isabel Mendiola, Spectrum News 1’s Brooke Brighton, and Laser Tech FTC—as well as, hands-on activities and lightning talks by local women in STEM.
And tea. Of course, we will have tea. And swag. We have some amazing swag bag goodies to share with our T&T participants, courtesy of Starbucks, MilliporeSigma, Gearbox Labs, Spectrum News 1, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and Mead Public Library.
Looking for even more STEM activities this month? Check out the Wisconsin Science Festival.
*Details of the featured women in STEM were courtesy of Wikipedia, NASA, and the National Women’s History Museum.