“On the 24th February 2020, Katherine Johnson, an American mathematician who made critical contributions to NASA’s orbital mechanics knowledge, that led to the success of the first and subsequent manned US spaceflights, very sadly passed away at the age of 102.
The event saddened the whole STEM world, but in particular girls in STEM who viewed Katherine as a phenomenal role model who demonstrated just what amazing things a black woman could achieve in a field dominated by the very opposite at the time – a privileged white male. Still to this day, the STEM landscape, despite improvements, is mostly unchanged.
Like Katherine, there are many inspirational women in STEM, and many young women trying to find their way in the STEM world – including myself. To me, some of the biggest issues we still face are a lack of representation, being shot down or not given a platform to share our voice, and – critically – being scared off at a young age.
By missing out the minds and contribution of young women in STEM, we are potentially missing out on the solutions to some of our biggest challenges – whether that is addressing the climate crisis or preventing epidemics in a globalised world.
But on International Women’s Day, the important thing is not to dwell on what often goes wrong, but on what we can do right.”
How to encourage more girls in STEM: