As young girls grow up, they look to role models to help lead the way in their future plans and careers. Strong female role models in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are no exception to what young females need.
According to a recent study titled Trend Analysis: Gender in STEM by the National Expert Organization on Girls / Women and Science / Technology (VHTO) a barrier for young girls contemplating STEM is a clear lack of female role models within the field. Lack of female representation within associated professions means that girls may view careers with an additional challenge of having to prove oneself in being ‘one of the guys.’ The authors suggest teachers provide role models for young girls, who can provide authentic and realistic images of their careers with the aim of increasing motivation to study math and science.
Thankfully, as society continues to progress, we begin to see these female leaders emerging and leading the way for the next generation of girls in STEM. We celebrate these pioneers and their accomplishments and can only hope that the light of their success paves the way for other females aspiring to make headway within these fields. While the following list is in no way inclusive of all female leaders, it does highlight a few key ones that young females should look to for guidance.
1. Professor Emma Johnston
Professor Emma Johnston is the Dean of Science at UNSW Sydney and currently teaches Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology. Her line of work doesn’t keep her tied to an office chair; instead she is out getting her hands dirty while investigating ecotoxicology. In this area, she has been able to study natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef and has worked to research ways to help save it. Presently, the Great Barrier Reef is under serious threat from climate change and pollution that has resulted in terrible cases of coral bleaching. Scientists like Dr. Johnston are working hard to help minimize the loss of this great natural wonder. When she isn’t working on reef research or teaching a class, she is busy bringing science to the masses by appearing on various TV and radio shows.
2. Karlie Noon
Karlie Noon is an Indigenous astronomer with a Bachelor of Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science. She has tasked herself with the mission of unveiling what the first indigenous Australians knew about the sky by researching early settler accounts of native stories about rings around the moon, also called moon haloes. These result from ice crystals in the atmosphere that refract moonlight. “Science is particularly relevant to me because I love physics and stars, but there are so many high achievers out there and I feel that they don’t necessarily get the recognition in mainstream media that they deserve,” she says. Aside from paving the way in Indigenous astronomy, she’s also trailblazing the way with her green hair, piercings and tattoos, showing others that science practitioners don’t have a particular “look”.
3. Ocean Ramsey
Ocean Ramsey can’t be defined by one title. She is a marine scientist, professional free diver, scuba instructor, shark and marine conservationist, and model. She shows her fearlessness by regularly diving with tiger and Great White sharks in the name of research, and is a great example of how women don’t have to be tied to one title – they can do it all. “So much of our actions as a human population today will determine what kind of world the next generation comes into and grows up in.” Ramsey said. “I love the development of science, technology.”
4. Dr. Rebecca Van Amber
Dr. Rebecca Van Amber has played a key part in finding ways to reduce fabric waste within the fashion industry. Many may not know, but fabric plays a large part in damaging the environment. The denim dyeing process uses large quantities of water, heat and energy that play crucial parts in causing this damage. In her research at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials, she has discovered a new method to transform old denim, destined for landfill, into ultrafine colored particles that can be reused for new denim dye. Aside from this, she is also working on the effects of textiles on human health and other various natural fabric fibers. From within her lab, Dr. Rebecca Van Amber plays a part in changing the spectrum of the fashion world. She shows us that science isn’t exclusive to one realm; it can affect any type of industry.
5. Xyla Foxlin
Xyla Foxlin is another accomplished woman that refuses to be tied down to one specific title. She is an entrepreneur, mechanical engineer and artist, YouTube host, and the CEO of Parihug. Parihug is the company is able to bring the comfort of loved ones right into your arms. They create technological toys that give you the capability to hug your loved ones from a distance. She is at the forefront of female engineering role models who refuse to be defined by one title. Foxlin is here to prove once and for all that engineering is inclusive, and women are here to take the industry by storm.
6. Noramay Cadena
Noramay Cadena is the cofounder of Los Angeles’ only hardware-focused accelerator for startups. She is a mathematician, an MBA graduate from MIT, and an advisor to the Latinas in STEM Foundation. The foundation is centered around inspiring and empowering Latinas to pursue careers in STEM. Her accomplishments and leadership positions are what make her a great female role model for aspiring STEM girls.
7. Jessi Baker
Jessi Baker isn’t just creative, she is also strategic. She is an engineer, designer, and founder of tech company, Provenance. Her company specializes in streamlining product supply chains via technology and focuses on the transparency aspect. She has used this technology to create circular economies, which are what led to Forbes to include her in their recent list of 46 Sustainability Leaders (who are also women).
8. Katerina Kimmorley
Katerina Kimmorley has more than made her mark in the realm of renewable energy economics. Out of her many achievements, she is best known for co-founding the social enterprise Pollinate Energy, an initiative dedicated to setting up entrepreneurs to distribute sustainable technologies such as solar lights in India and Nepal.
These eight women are making headways and inspiring women everywhere to work hard to achieve their dreams in STEM. They will continue to be pioneers in this realm and are helping to lead the next generation of female STEM leaders into greatness.