Women in STEM - March 2023
Biographies of Famous Women in STEM
Nancy Grace Roman: The Life and Legacy of a NASA Star
Nancy Grace Roman (1925-2018) was an American astronomer known as the "Mother of Hubble" for her pivotal role in developing the Hubble Space Telescope. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and showed an early interest in astronomy, which led her to study the subject at college and graduate school.
Roman joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959, where she became the first Chief of Astronomy and Relativity in the Office of Space Science. In this role, she oversaw the development of space-based astronomical observatories, including the Orbiting Solar Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. She was a strong advocate for the Hubble, which was eventually launched in 1990 and has revolutionized our understanding of the universe.
In addition to her work on the Hubble, Roman was a prominent advocate for women in science and helped to found the Association for Women in Science. She received numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and the National Medal of Science. Her legacy continues to inspire and influence astronomers and scientists around the world.
Shirley Ann Jackson: American Physicist
Shirley Ann Jackson is an American physicist and researcher who has made significant contributions to the fields of condensed matter physics, particle physics, and telecommunications. She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1946 and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 1968. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1973, becoming the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from the institution.
After completing her education, Jackson joined the theoretical physics research department at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she conducted groundbreaking research on the behavior of electrons in semiconductor materials. Her work helped pave the way for the development of many modern technologies, including the fax machine, touch-tone telephone, and solar cells.
In 1995, Jackson became the first woman and first African American to be appointed as President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a position she held until 2013. Under her leadership, the institute became a leader in scientific research and innovation, with a focus on interdisciplinary collaborations in fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and energy.
Jackson has received numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed upon scientists in the United States. She is also a member of several prestigious organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Dr. Mae C. Jemison: Former American Astronaut
Mae Jemison is an American physician, engineer, and former astronaut who became the first African American woman to travel into space. She was born in Decatur, Alabama, in 1956, and grew up in Chicago, Illinois.
Jemison received a degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and went on to earn a medical degree from Cornell University in 1981. She worked as a general practitioner for several years before being selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps in 1987.
Jemison made history on September 12, 1992, when she flew into space as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, becoming the first African American woman to do so. During her time in space, she conducted experiments in materials science, life sciences, and human adaptation to weightlessness.
After leaving NASA in 1993, Jemison founded a technology consulting firm and became a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College. She has also been a strong advocate for science education and has worked to inspire young people, particularly girls and children of color, to pursue careers in STEM.
Jemison has received numerous honors and awards for her achievements, including induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame. She has also been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and the Kilby International Award, among others.
Articles Regarding Women in STEM
Resources for Teachers and Parents
The EngineerGirl website is designed to bring national attention to the exciting opportunities that engineering represents for girls and women. Read bios from female engineers, learn about careers and projects women engineers work on, enter their yearly essay contest for 3rd-12th grade girls, and ask an engineer any question you have. This site is a service of the National Academy of Engineering.
The SciGirls website is created by PBS Kids specifically for girls interested in learning about science. Play games and watch videos on topics including animals, outer space, and our environment.
NASA for Students
NASA For Students has everything a budding astronaut is interested in! From fun topics on space flight, to the current NASA missions, to opportunities for students, this website will inspire any girl to aim for the moon and beyond!
Entertainment that Supports Women in STEM Movement
Ada Twist, Scientist (ages 4+)
Ada Twist, Scientist is based on the book of the same name written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. The #1 New York Times bestseller was first released in 2016 as a part of a STEM-focused picture book series, The Questioneers.
The main characters in the series are Ada Twist the scientist, Rosie Revere the engineer, and Iggy Peck the architect.
Hidden Figures, (rated PG)
Loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly: Three brilliant African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Temple Grandin, (teens+)
Before enrolling in college, famed animal husbandry expert Temple Grandin visits a cattle ranch owned by her aunt Ann and demonstrates a brilliance for all things mechanical. Once classes begin, the autistic Grandin rises to meet the intellectual challenges -- though the social ones are a bit more difficult. Grandin triumphs over prejudice to become an innovator in the field of animal care, and a lifelong advocate for humane slaughtering practices.
Celebrate NJ STEM Month!
Throughout the month of March, NJ STEM Pathways & Research and Development Council of New Jersey highlight all of the incredible accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, math, and innovation spread across the state. Anyone can participate in NJ STEM Month by hosting or attending NJ STEM events throughout the month of March, and/or by engaging on social media through #NJSTEMMonth. Click here to access the website to find the events put on throughout the month, and don't forget to follow @NJSTEMPathways & @RDCouncilNJ and use the #NJSTEMMonth when showcasing all STEM accomplishments.