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Supporting the careers of Women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
We began this Page in 2012, to help the public to connect with women who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We want to create a safe place for people of all genders to discuss how we can work together to make STEM more inclusive.

The scientific literature has shown that there are inequalities between women and men in STEM. Denying that a problem exists is the single biggest obstacle in promoting gender equity in science. The way to move forward is to start off from the position that things are unequal; so what are we going to do about it? 

Many women eventually drop out of STEM fields because of organisational barriers to career progression, lack of career guidance and support, and family commitments. The same is not true for men who work in STEM. Although many women scientists successfully balance their careers and family responsibilities, there are still institutional obstacles for women in STEM. Having women role models and good mentors are powerful simulators for change.

Our Aims
  1. Make women in STEM more visible to the public, with a special focus on women scientists on Google+
  2. Promote careers for women in STEM
  3. Highlight issues of gender inequality
  4. Address solutions to improve women’s participation, inclusion, leadership and recognition in STEM.

Our Team

Our site and content managers are women who are actively work in the STEM fields;

Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe, Professor Rajini Rao and Dr Zuleyka Zevallos.


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The laboratory is not a singles bar
Our very own Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe, founder of STEM Women, spoke out against the sexist comments by Prof Tim Hunt. On +BBC World Have Your Say Buddhini responds to Professor Hunt's defence that he was making a joke when he said women are prone to fall in love and cry easily in the lab:

It's not a joke to many of us who have experienced these things or have heard stories of people who have experienced these things... We can all bring up personal examples of these things, but there's actual data on this. There have been studies done on how institutionalised the sexism can be. Scientists like Sir Tim Hunt are ignoring that data... The laboratory is not a singles bar. And it's insulting to men when we act as if men can't control their lustful thoughts around women.

Listen to Buddhini talk: #stemwomen  
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Not liking how this is framed. Science is not a person. Only scientists can be sexist. Most are prob. Nice and great to work with. It's the few schmucks out there giving them a bad name. 
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Margaret Hamilton: Lunar Module Programmer

Meet the #STEMWoman  who coined the phrase software engineering.
The software for the guidance computer, which was placed in both the command module and the lunar module, for navigation assistance and to control the spacecraft, was written by a team at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (now the Draper Laboratory) headed up by Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton's code was good — so good, in fact that it very well might have saved the entire Apollo 11 mission.

The process of actually coding in the programs was laborious as well. The guidance computer used something known as "core rope memory": wires were roped through metal cores in a particular way to store code in binary. "If the wire goes through the core, it represents a one." Hamilton explained in the documentary Moon Machines. "And around the core it represents a zero." The programs were woven together by hand in factories. And because the factory workers were mostly women, core rope memory became known by engineers as "LOL memory," LOL standing for "little old lady."

Hamilton is now 78 and runs Hamilton Technologies, Inc., the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company she founded in 1986. She's lived to see "software engineering" — a term she coined — grow from a relative backwater in computing into a prestigious profession. "I began to use the term 'software engineering' to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering," Hamilton said.

In the early days, women were often assigned software tasks because software just wasn't viewed as very important. "It’s not that managers of yore respected women more than they do now," Rose Eveleth writes in a great piece on early women programmers for Smithsonian magazine. "They simply saw computer programming as an easy job. It was like typing or filing to them and the development of software was less important than the development of hardware. So women wrote software, programmed, and even told their male colleagues how to make the hardware better."
The Apollo 11 lunar lander's computer almost faltered — but her great code saved it.
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Happy Birthday, Helen Taussig

Today is the birthday of cardiologist Helen Taussig who is recognized for her pioneering role in treating "blue baby syndrome". 

Rajini Rao originally shared to Making Sense of Science:
Affairs of the Heart: Dr. Helen Taussig 

❤  On a late November day in 1944, bright sunlight streamed upon the blue-tinged body of 18 month old Eileen Saxon, who was hovering near death. Born with a congenital heart defect that prevented her blood from being oxygenated by her lungs, she now weighed little more than 9 pounds. Across the ocean, World War II raged on, but at the +Johns Hopkins University hospital in Baltimore, another type of history was being made. Under the gaze of 706 doctors gathered around, Dr. Alfred Blalock meticulously rerouted an artery heading to the child's arm, back to the lungs giving the oxygen-starved blood a second chance of rejuvenation. The anesthesiologist cried out in astonishment as Eileen's lips turned from blue to a healthy red. That was the start of a successful procedure that would cure thousands of "blue babies" in the brand new era of heart surgery that followed. Today, we remember Dr. Helen Taussig, whose brilliant idea it was that set the stage.

❤ Born on this day, May 24, in 1898, Helen took medical classes at both Harvard and Boston Universities although neither would award her a degree because of her gender. Worse, she was forbidden to speak to her male colleagues in histology class because of fears that she would "contaminate" them. She completed her MD degree at Johns Hopkins and there, as a pediatric cardiologist did extensive work with anoxemia, or blue baby syndrome. She noticed that blue babies with an additional heart defect (called PDA) fared better, and that a shunt that mimicked PDA could be the solution. She pitched the idea of getting more blood to the lungs much "as a plumber changes pipes around" to surgeon Alfred Blalock and his technician Vivien Thomas. Thomas, a black man whose education did not go beyond high school, practiced the surgery in the animal lab and after modifying instruments for use in humans, coached Dr. Blalock through the first hundred surgeries in infants. In 1976, Hopkins awarded him an honorary doctorate. Sadly, little Eileen became cyanotic again in a few months and did not survive past 2 years even though other babies would go on to live healthy lives. Today, a modified version of the shunt is performed using a synthetic Gore-Tex graft (lower right image). 

¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Happy Birthday, Dr. Taussig!  

Image Note: Helen Taussig became deaf in later years, and actually used her fingers rather than a stethoscope to feel the rhythm of heartbeats.

#ScienceSunday   #STEMWomen  
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Happy Birthday!
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Gender And The Harvard Math Department

Meena Boppana is a junior at Harvard and former president of the Harvard Undergraduate Math Association. Passionate about math, she wondered why so few of her female friends with "insanely strong math backgrounds" (think- math competition stars) chose not to major in math. She writes: This year, there were no female students in Math 55a, the most intense freshman math class, and only two female students graduating with a primary concentration in math. There are also a total of zero tenured women faculty in Harvard math. 

Her survey of Harvard undergrads found that the culprit was climate: women would like to be more involved with math but were uncomfortable by the gender gap and the culture of the math department.  


H/T +David Roberts 
This is a guest post by Meena Boppana, a junior at Harvard and former president of the Harvard Undergraduate Math Association (HUMA). Meena is passionate about addressing the gender gap in math and...
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(Related note) went to see Counting From Infinity: On The Twin Prime Conjecture and considered inviting my geeky friends. I was pleased that all 4 of the math geeks in could think of, all of them were women! (Including one mother of 3 who knitted a skirt with hundreds of digits of pi. :) Yay geek girl power!)
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Gender Bias in STEM: A Southern Perspective

Have you wondered how local culture impacts the experience of women in STEM? +Cathy Newman, a PhD student in evolutionary biology, reports on a panel discussion at Louisiana State University which covered familiar and unique grounds of self confidence, sexual harassment and sexism in southern culture. Read about Cathy's personal perspective on the challenges faced by STEM women, and pick up some helpful tips from the expert panel on our latest blog post.
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We agree, and are delighted that you feel the same, +Melissa Hosten !
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The "S" in STEM: Dr Marie Maynard Daly
Marie Maynard Daly conducted ground-breaking research on the impact of cholesterol and sugars on heart disease, as well as examining the circulatory system and hypertension in advanced age. Towards the end of her career, she examined how proteins are produced and organised in the cell.

Today she is remembered for being the first Black American woman to be awarded a PhD in Chemistry in the United States, in 1947, but her legacy is more profound, both in terms of her scientific achievements, and her work in promoting diversity in STEM.

Dr Daly graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor degree in Chemistry in 1942; she completed her Master's degree in one year; and her PhD in 3 years.

In 1988, Dr Daly also established a scholarship for African American science students at Queens College. The fund honours of her father who was a strong supporter of her education and career, and who was forced by economic circumstances to drop out of Cornell University, where he was studying chemistry.

"Enzymes are complicated and indispensable molecules, whose importance lies within their ability to speed up chemical reactions, and to regulate nearly every biochemical process in the bodies of living organisms. Countless scientists spent years researching those intricate molecules - amongst others, one of the most prominent was Marie Maynard Daly....

Marie Maynard Daly conducted important research projects, which clarified a variety of mechanisms happening in human bodies despite all the problems she had to overcome, whether it was race or gender bias, or her lack of money. Her research and studies, aimed at a wide range of subjects, provided an important base for next generations of scientists."

Quote and image: Learn more: #stemwomen #stemheroines #woc
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What a wonderful find. Thanks for posting this!
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Lovesick Crybabies?

The problem with "girls" in lab according to Nobelist Tim Hunt: "You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” Hunt went on to explain that he was in favor of "single sex" labs although he didn't want to "stand in the way" of women.

Sadly, this sort of rubbish is routine for women in STEM. 
The Nobel Prize winning biologist who thanked women “for making lunch” and berated them for crying too much isn’t an outlier. For females in the science world, sexism is the norm.
Stella Spadaro's profile photoKP Jayabhanu's profile photoMichelle Beissel's profile photoiPan Darius's profile photo
Yes, and almost none would risk their lives for genuine discovery, as Marie Curie. On her only personal trip to America, woman's group leaders organized a then vast fortune today, to donate to her pioneering, I think ounce? of radium produced here.
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Happy Birthday Professor Sally Ride!
Many people know Sally Ride for being an astronaut, but there is less known about her accomplishments as a Professor in Physics and her leadership in other areas of STEM education, as well as gender equity and diversity in STEM. Ride is honoured in today's +Google Doodle, on what would have been her 64th birthday. Google's accompanying blog post is written by none other than Ride's life partner, Tam Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy, who is also a science educator and CEO of the +Sally Ride Science organisation.

O'Shaughnessy writes: 
"In 1977, Sally was finishing her Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University when she saw an article in the student newspaper saying that NASA was looking for astronauts—and for the first time was allowing women to apply. Sally didn’t hesitate to send in her application, and became one of six women selected as part of the new crop of astronaut candidates. On June 18, 1983, she soared into history as the first American woman in space...

After leaving NASA, Sally became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. She loved being a scientist, but she was concerned that many young people—especially girls and minority students—abandon their early interest in science and math... 

Sally said it best:
'Everywhere I go I meet girls and boys who want to be astronauts and explore space, or they love the ocean and want to be oceanographers, or they love animals and want to be zoologists, or they love designing things and want to be engineers. I want to see those same stars in their eyes in 10 years and know they are on their way!'"

Read more: #stemwomen   #lgbtqia   #sallyride   #physics  
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Beautiful just beautiful 
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Pipeline: Role-Playing Women Students' Experiences
Check out this educational role-playing game which traces what it's like to be a young woman student in STEM. The game is text-based and includes lots of useful facts about gender equity.

The game is made by two Harvard women students, Danielle Frostig and Arianna Benson for Gender and Science.

Chaise Benjamin's profile photoPatrick Horgan's profile photoDave Finnerty (TheMadAdmin)'s profile photoLauren Leach's profile photo
+Javier Chiappa​ you have fallen into the trap of what sociologist Michael Kimmel's research identifies as aggrevied entitlement. It is the frustration and sense of disempowerment over the idea that women and minorities should seek out equity. There is no need to fear women's success in STEM, as this only bolsters innovation and ensures research and scientific practices continue to meet the complex medical, social and technological issues facing society.

In connection, you are, rather ironically, also living out the pattern identified by Dr Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues, who showed in their most recent PNAS study that White men are especially likely to disbelieve scientific evidence about gender inequality in STEM. You'd know that was a key finding if you'd bothered to read the link supplied to you rather than skimming a news article. That's the thing about science: you have to be willing to read and learn, rather than be outraged fuelled solely by your ideological biases.

You are expending great energy fighting with multiple STEM women practitioners on this thread; in so doing you prove why gender equity is so vital, given the sexism you display. It's time to recognise that you're not an expert in gender equity research, or a Professor in an esteemed university who has dedicated her free time to educate the public and to support gender equity, as Professor +Rajini Rao​ does. It's clear you're unable to engage with scientific evidence. That's too bad. We hope that one day you might learn to get over your fear of intelligent women who are devoted to promoting women's professionalism and scientific excellence. Adieu.
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Defending The "Myth" About Women in Science
You may recall that in November 2014, we wrote about the research led by Professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, which they published on +The New York Times under the headline, Academic Science Isn’t Sexist. The researchers are at it again, having published another article with +CNN titled The Myth About Women in Science.  

The researchers argue that women in science are favoured by faculty hiring panels 2:1; however, their study makes these claims based on a flawed study design. Williams and Ceci sent out surveys asking a sample of academics to rate three hypothetical candidates (two men, one woman) based on a short narrative by a fictional hiring committee Chair. This is not how women academics are hired in the real world. 

In the reality, women scientists send in their CVs and responses to selection criteria, with supporting materials such as teaching records, letters of recommendation, publications and grants record and so on. Then a selection panel chooses a shortlist. Applicants interview. The panel then reviews and deliberates on the interviews and materials, and so on.

Even though their study does not address the real life context of hiring decisions, Williams and Ceci write on CNN:
"Our results, coupled with actuarial data on real-world academic hiring showing a female advantage, suggest this is a propitious time for women beginning careers in academic science. The low numbers of women in math-based fields of science do not result from sexist hiring, but rather from women's lower rates of choosing to enter math-based fields in the first place, due to sex differences in preferred careers and perhaps to lack of female role models and mentors... the only sexism they face in the hiring process is bias in their favor.

Various women in STEM have published critiques of Williams and Ceci's research, including one of our managers, +Zuleyka Zevallos, who shows why the study's methods do not match the researchers' conclusions ( Dr +Karen James has curated the Twitter and blog conversations showing why Williams and Ceci's publicity of their research is disingenuous at the very least, and damaging to the cause of gender equity and inclusion (

Dr +Kathryn Clancy coined the term  #GaslightingDuo  which is the Twitter hashtag being used to discuss the broader issues with the coverage of Williams and Ceci's research ( This term reflects how Williams and Ceci's opinion pieces, which are published in popular media, without scientific critique, are tantamount to telling women they are making up the discrimination they experience, which is actually well-documented in the scientific literature. 

Williams and Ceci have dismissed critiques about their methods, dismissing women scientists as nothing but "online detractors." Now Science Careers, a publication by the +AAAS - The American Association for the Advancement of Science, has joined Williams and Ceci's defence, by publishing a one-sided article, without acknowledging the scientific critiques of their research. They quote Williams:

"It’s tempting to blame gender when you don't get a job and you’re a woman. It’s easier … than to admit that the entire premise of what you've done for the past 7 years of your life was flawed at the root."

The fact is that many studies have demonstrated that bias against women exists in hiring and at other stages of the academic "pipeline." One such study is research showing that, when evaluating CVs with identical information, with only the genders being different, men are favoured over women (

Dr +Marie-Claire Shanahan includes a useful review of the literature showing that bias against women has a negative impact on their hiring and subsequent careers. She cautions that the story that Williams and Ceci are selling, which is being enthusiastically supported by the media, is one which will further disadvantage women:

"The authors wouldn’t have published at CNN if they didn’t want this to be a dinner table, playground, and soccer team conversation piece. Yet, without much evidence that hiring bias is the major obstacle, this study adds a strong voice to the public conversation about science that says: “Guess what, no bias! Just choose to apply to tenure track jobs!” How might the CNN piece (and even the study) sound around the water cooler?: “That thing about women in science struggling to get jobs, totally a myth.”

Williams and Ceci are trying to change the narrative about women in STEM, arguing that being "negative" about the challenges women face is turning women away from science. That narrative is false. Scientific research shows that women's abilities and enthusiasm is not the issue, nor is the problem that women in science are speaking up about sexism, sexual harassment and discrimination. Sexism doesn't end by pretending women have some hypothetical balance in our favour, especially given that data show this is not the case. Sexism ends through active education about gender bias, by addressing institutional barriers, and by better informing the public about how to support girls and women in STEM education.

Learn more on the research and how to target gender bias our piece for blogs

Learn more
* More on how gender impacts evaluation of academic CVs:
* Men at elite institutions prefer not to hire women:
* Social impact of Williams and Ceci's research and why the media loves to hyperbole research that conforms to gender stereotypes. #stemwomen   #stemeducation   #womeinscience   #science   #stillaproblem  
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Katherine Johnson: Meet the Woman Who Did the Calculations for the First Moon Landing

None of the other women had ever asked questions before, but by asking questions, Johnson began to stand out. She was told that women didn’t participate in the briefings or attend meetings; she asked if there were a law against it. The answer, of course, was no, and so Johnson began to attend briefings.
At a time of rampant racism, a time when women were excluded from many jobs, Katherine Johnston, an African-American physicist, was laying the foundation for the Space Age...
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+Víktor Bautista i Roca If you mean Luna 9, it marked the first "soft" landing and had no Soviets in it. There were other Soviet and American probes that crash landed before this. This is not the point of this post, however. 
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Emmy Noether: A Birthday Tribute.
Happy birthday Emmy Noether

Today we commemorate the birthday of Amalie Emmy Noether. Emmy Noether was born to a Jewish family in the Bavarian town of Erlangen; her father was mathematician Max Noether. Emmy originally planned to teach French and English after passing the required examinations, but instead studied mathematics at the University of Erlangen, where her father lectured. She is renowned for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. She revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras, and top notch pioneers in their fields such as Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Jean Dieudonné, Hermann Weyl, et al. described her as the most important woman in the history of mathematics.
In my opinion, in physics the most important discovery of her's is the one-to-one correspondence between continuous symmetries on one side and conserved quantities on the other side -- Noether's theorem. It is a deep physical insight whose origin and meaning became clear later in quantum mechanics, where conserved quantities generate the symmetry transformations. Now, you may have thought many a times as to what is "Energy". The answer lies in Noether's theorem. The time evolution in quantum mechanics is governed by the Hamiltonian trough the time evolution operator U= exp (iHt). Noether's theorem again show us that there is a relationship between Energy (Through the Hamiltonian) and system's time evolution. Or in other words, Noether's theorem guarantees that there's a number that's conserved whenever there's time translational symmetry, or in other words the quantity whose conservation law can be derived from the time-translation symmetry is referred to as energy. From spatial translations, one obtains the momentum; from spatial rotations, one can derive the components of the angular momentum; Galilean or Lorentz symmetries are linked to the constant velocity of the center of mass, so on and so forth. Here's a note I wrote on Noether's theorem. 
Around 1915 when David Hilbert and Felix Klein wanted her to be a Privatdozent in Göttingen, there was some opposition. A female teacher would be viewed as a humiliating experience for the chauvinistic society! However, she spent four years lecturing under Hilbert's name. Her habilitation was approved in 1919, allowing her to obtain the rank of Privatdozent. Noether was an excellent teacher and never claimed credit for work she wouldn't deserve. Unfortunately one of her students, Werner Weber, later helped Adolf Hitler to get rid of her in 1933. She moved to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Even there she had to face the "prevalent" male chauvinism.
Contributions and Publications by Emmy Noether:
A very good article on Emmy Noether from Wikipedia (This happens to be today's featured article in Wikipedia): Noether's application for admission to the University of Erlangen and three curricula vitae. The first of these is in Emmy Noether's own handwriting (In German):
Some memories of Noether: Here's an important paper showing the importance of Noether's work:
And, here's translation of Noether's Theorems in English:
Sadly, male chauvinism still exists in many parts of the world, because of which many potential "could be" Noether are denied education. And its a matter of shame that Noether was also a victim of sexism, like many others. In spite of that, against all odds, she made remarkable contributions in the "magnanimous" world of Mathematics, and Theoretical Physics.
Image Courtesy: Pioneering Women Of Physics

#EmmyNoether #mathematics   #physics   #happybirthday  
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hard work
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