March 25, 2015

“Stop complaining and do something” [Women’s History Month]

Posted by Laura Guertin

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 post on the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), second post on Wikipedia edit-a-thon for women in STEM, and my third post on The Voices of Women in STEM via podcasts.  This will be my final post for the month, and I hope you enjoy this one just as much as the rest.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write for my final post for Women’s History Month – there are so many other topics and organizations worthy of a shout-out.  But when I read Nicole LaDue’s column in Nature on March 10, I knew I had my post.  Nicole is asking scientists to Help Fight the Battle for Earth in US Schools, to champion standards that support Earth science instruction and student learning in grades K-12.  Nicole doesn’t hold back, stating that, “…please do not tell me about your child’s poorly prepared science teacher. Do not tell me that your undergraduate students are ill-prepared for college-level science.”

And it is Nicole’s last sentence in the article that inspired my title for this post, “stop complaining and do something.”  Certainly, we can and should do more to help K-12 teachers and schools.  But we can also take a stand and take action when we see unequal representation, or hear or see inappropriate comments, towards women in STEM.

Here is one example of a parent that was not happy at how their child’s homework assumed a scientist was a male.  This post summarizes the approach the parent took with the teacher, and the excellent outcome.  Hopefully, this story will inspire others to be more aware of equality and diversity in school assignments.

A large “storm” erupted last year, when the Philae lander set down on a comet.  This technological achievement was certainly worth celebrating across the globe, but it was the clothing that one of the project scientists wore while being interviewed by the international press that changed the celebrations for some.

The blog post offers suggestions for what all scientists can do to make sure women feel comfortable and accepted in the space sciences. One person decided to go even further and create a new shirt that everyone could wear with pride, celebrating women scientists (all funded through a Kickstarter campaign that was funded at 650%, detailed in the video below).


Some items connected to women in STEM, however, still need our help in getting resolved.  Let’s all do our part to see fewer tweets like these on Twitter.


And let’s make sure that Women’s History Month doesn’t become “history” for the next 11 months, but that we celebrate the participation and achievements of female scientists year-round.