Much has been written about the need to encourage women to embark on careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—and fill the demand for future STEM employment. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently pointed out that “only 26 percent of STEM workers in the United States are women” despite the fact that they comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce. Michelle Obama has proclaimed,
If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
But what if girls bring a different perspective with them, and choose to navigate their STEM careers differently than boys? What if the traditional paths created and well-worn by generations of men are not the same paths girls follow as they apply their newfound skills to STEM fields? There are plenty of women out there engaged in traditional jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, but many are forging novel, interdisciplinary, STEM-based careers that blur categories and transcend agenda.
Emily Graslie, scientist, educator, artist, and host of the popular YouTube show The Brain Scoop, recently produced an episode about women in STEM fields, “Where My Ladies At?” Graslie’s own career provides a clue to the location of some of those ladies. They are out there, innovating, designing, researching, and teaching, but because some women in STEM have opted for careers that defy categorization within the acronym, they can be harder to identify.