March 18, 2015

The Voices of Women in STEM via podcasts [Women’s History Month]

Posted by Laura Guertin

[Image from Wesley Fryer, cc attribution license]

[Image from Wesley Fryer, cc attribution license]

For the month of March, in honor of Women’s History Month, I am dedicating my weekly blog posts to the outstanding organizations, resources, and inspiring stories about women in STEM.  Be sure to check out my first two posts on the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) and Wikipedia edit-a-thon for women in STEM.

In January 2014, I attended the Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience in Education and was surprised to hear this interesting piece of information on the first day.  Christopher Keane shared data collected by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) from geoscience employers, where employers are disappointed with the lack of listening and cognitive integration skills of current graduates (Keane et al., 2014; Guertin, 2014).  Granted, there is much “noise” that students must filter in their daily lives, but why not help them work on those listening skills by having them listen to the voices of women in STEM professions? (And honestly, how many of us have taken the time to just “listen” to a woman talk about her career – not read and article or watch a video, but only listen to her voice and her story?)

Take a listen to the voices of women in STEM through these resources:

Lady Paragons – Lady Paragons is “building a community to tell the stories of women in STEM, showcase Women’s STEM organizations, and provide a platform where ladies can help ladies succeed in STEM careers.” They have a podcasting series that interviews women in STEM, with each podcast lasting 15-30 minutes each.

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics ON THE AIR! – radio stories (some about women, some that interview female scientists) on programs, practices, and individual biographies on women in STEM. One collection of podcasts highlights the achievements of women with disabilities in STEM.

STEM XX – a podcasting series that interviews women in STEM about who they are and their careers.  To date, there are 20 interviews that last 20-30 minutes each.

Stories from the Field – hosted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, these 64 short audio clips by STEM women describe their scientific adventures and career insights.

Here are some additional interviews and stories provided by women in STEM that are worth listening to for inspiration and information:

The Geosciences Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research (GeoCUR) gives out an annual award for Undergraduate Research Mentoring.  Listen to the audio interviews from previous winners Mary MacLaughlin, Mary Savina, and Tracey Holloway as they discuss their own early undergraduate research experiences and approaches to working with students.

People Behind the Science Podcast has a mission “to inspire current and future scientists, share the different paths to a successful career in science, educate the general population on what scientists do, and show the human side of science.”  To date, there are 231 podcasts of male and female scientists, approximately one hour in length, searchable by scientist name, organization, and area of study.

Story Collider is a collection of personal and at times emotional stories shared by scientists.  Podcasts are created from their live shows and feature both male and female scientists, but it is worth exploring their collection to hear women talk about everything from preparing to testify in front of Congress, to dealing with a cancer diagnosis, to falling in and out of love with science.

There is so much we can learn from these voices of women in STEM – let’s make sure they are heard, shared, and discussed with others.  And while we are at it, each of us should add our own voice to the conversation.


Additional sources for exploration

Guertin, L. (2014). Why students should listen. Journal of College Science Teaching, 44(2): 8-9.

Keane, C., Wilson, C., & Houlton, H. (2014). Geoscience workforce—pain points in a high demand environment. Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education, Panel Discussion I, timestamp 42:50-48:45. Available at