Girls In KC STEM

By Adriana Suarez

According to KC Stem Alliance and a government report, “in 2015 women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs but occupied only 24 percent of STEM jobs.” In a world where males dominate in STEM fields, women can often feel of less importance and wouldn’t want to compete with that. KC STEM Alliance is a not-for-profit network of organizations working to inspire interest in STEM fields within the greater Kansas City region. It was created in 2011 through funding from Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

One of the many projects they hold to promote their mission is Girls in Tech. Girls in Tech was created to motivate and encourage women to engage in Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematical career fields. The Stem Alliance states how they’re encouraging this through hands-on experience, connection with mentors, and social media awareness. The Girls in Tech event truly inspires students to code and get involved in the technology field. The program took off in 2015 with the help of sponsorships by organizations such as, Skillbuilders Fund, the Women’s Foundation, and Cerner!

The partners of KC STEM Alliance also encourage girls through other programs in the month of December such as the Hour of Code. In fact, there is actually a need for volunteers for the Girls in Tech KC Hour of code this year on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. It will run from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 4825 Troost Ave., Suite 108 Kansas City, MO 64110.

Any UMKC students, alumni and SCE friends & supporters are welcome to volunteer.

Celebrating Jedidah Isler, Ph.D.: A Woman in STEM

By Ann Varner

I stumbled upon an article titled “5 Powerful Women in STEM You Need to Know” ( ) and while reading it came across someone I found incredibly interesting and wanted to write about. Her name is Dr. Jedidah isler and she is the first African American woman to earn a PhD in Astrophysics from Yale.

According to, “Dr. Isler is an outspoken advocate of inclusion and empowerment in STEM fields and is the creator and host of “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”. Her non-profit organization, The STEM en Route to Change (SeRCH) Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to using STEM as a pathway for social justice and has developed a variety of initiatives including the #VanguardSTEM online platform and web series. Brief CV.”

In the STEM field women are vastly underrepresented, especially African American women. Women such as Dr. Isler are very much needed to advocate for inclusion and empowerment in the STEM field as well as represent themselves. Great work, Dr. Isler!

Photo credit:

Time Magazines Top 100

By Caitlin Easter

Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year came out recently, and it’s one of the most diverse and intersectional issues ever. The list also features the most women ever awarded, at almost half of the list being female. There are 48 women featured in this year’s list, which is up from the 45 who were featured last year. The list is made up of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans, and women are representing in each category.

The list is selected every year from a list of candidates who made the largest impacts in the world, good or bad.  Nominated by list alumni and voted on by the public, the list embodies the changes that happened throughout the beginning of each year.

This year’s list is made up of strong, groundbreaking women from all walks of life: activists, chefs, athletes, authors, scientists, actresses, singers, models, painters, directors, designers, politicians, a first lady, survivors, journalists, business women, and architects. We see big names such as Sandra Oh, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ariana Grande, but also have the pleasure to learn names that we’re not all familiar with such as Greta Thunberg, Vera Jourova, Jeanne Gang, and Jennifer Hyman.  Women are finally starting to be equally represented in different aspects of life, and we’re ready for it!

A full list of this year’s recipients can be viewed at:


Celebrating Vera Rubin

By Ann Varner

Vera Rubin in 2009

On this day, July 23, in 1928, a woman who made “ground breaking observations that provided evidence for the existence of a vast amount of dark matter in the universe” was born. That woman was Vera Rubin. It is always important to celebrate our women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and today is a great day to celebrate this great American astronomer.

Vera Rubin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and died on December 25, 2016 in Princeton, New Jersey. The New York Times reported that Vera became “entranced by astronomy from watching the stars wheel past her bedroom window.”  She went to Vassar College for her undergraduate degree and graduated the sole astronomer in her class. The New York Times also states that she had hoped to go to Princeton to get her PhD but the astrophysics graduate program did not admit women. Not deterred, she went to Cornell to obtain her master’s degree and then earned her PhD from Georgetown University.

Rubin taught at Montgomery College and Georgetown and then The Carnegie Institution. Despite the sexism she was met with in her field, she was able to build a successful career making important scientific discoveries, winning awards, and being an advocate for women in science. She was admitted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 and awarded the National Medal of Science in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Rubin is a pioneer in astrophysics for women and an inspiration to keep pushing forward in a male dominated field.

Marie Curie: The Pioneer for Women in Science

By Ann Varner

Nothing in this world is to be feared…only understood.

Marie Curie not only was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she was also the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice. Born in Poland on November 7, 1867, she was the youngest of five children. The only university in Warsaw was a men’s only school. However, Curie discovered an underground university for women and studied physics, chemistry, and math. Curie and her husband discovered polonium and radium, which assisted in the development of x-rays. She also discovered radioactivity and was the one to name it as such. When World War I broke out Curie helped to develop portable x-rays so that soldiers could be examined on the field. Curie died in 1934 due to prolonged exposure to radiation. She was a pioneer for women in science and a role model for women everywhere.

You can follow this link to find out more!

Fridays are for Feminism

By Ann Varner

Last Friday, the Women’s Center had a great turn out for the showing of the movie Hidden Figures. There was all the pizza, popcorn, and M&Ms you could ever want while watching this funny and heartwarming movie.

I won’t include any spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it, do it now. You’re missing out.

This event continued our Feminist Friday series. Crafty Feminist Friday returns Oct. 13, and we’ll watch and discuss The Girl on the Train on Oct. 27. These events start at noon—think of them as long, feminist lunch breaks!

As always, stay updated with our events by checking the blogs or watching for fliers on campus.

Panel Discussion: Women in STEM Careers

by Thea Voutiritsas

panel-discusssion-women-in-stem-careersWomen are widely underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields). In 2011,  women made up about half of the workforce, while filling less than a quarter of STEM jobs. Women in STEM fields also typically earn about 14% less than their male counterparts. So how do working women cope in these male-dominated fields? How do we increase interest in STEM degrees among women?

Discuss these questions and more with us on Tuesday, Feb. 7th at 12:00 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, room 325 for a panel discussion featuring women in STEM careers! Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to or by calling 816-235-1638. Sponsored by the Women in STEAM program.

Why making science “cute” doesn’t cut it

By Thea Voutiritsas


Twitter user RebeccaDV

There has been a recent effort from multiple major companies to promote women in STEM, and while the idea is great, the execution has been poor. As we’ve seen from EDF’s #prettycurious campaign, making science cutesy doesn’t equal making it accessible. IBM tweeted this video over the weekend along with

“Calling all #womenintech! Join the #HackAHairDryer experiment to reengineer what matters in #science.”

Despite their good intentions, IBM’s campaign implies that science will be best marketed to women through beauty products. Here’s the thing: women don’t need to be tricked into doing science. If we want to disassemble stigmas as math and science as unfeminine, we have to stop equating femininity to beauty. We don’t need to “dress up” science, but maybe we can dress down our beauty-centered expectations of femininity.

The Science of Safety

By Thea Voutiristsas


Photo Reference: Clancy KBH, Nelson RG, Rutherford JN, Hinde K (2014) Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102172. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102172

It’s no secret that women have been outnumbered by men in STEM, and that far too often, female scientists face unwanted sexual behavior from their superiors. Such situations have stayed behind closed doors throughout the past decade and often investigations have been conducted in secret in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved, forming a culture of silence around the issue. Then in early October, Buzzfeed News broke the story of many of us have caught wind of; a Berkeley professor had been accused of violating sexual harassment policies on at least four separate occasions. The news sent ripples across the field of Astronomy, as more women came forward with similar stories.

Soon after, students Katey Alatalo and Heather Flewelling founded Astronomy Allies, aiming to create a safe zone for women, offering services from formal, confidential complaint filing to safe walks home. Members of the group also sported red buttons to make their presence known at the 2015 American Astronomical Society Conference. Attendees were able to contact allies via text, email or phone to request subtle interventions. A senior scientist at the event later commented that this was the first conference he could remember at which he received no complaints of harassment. Astronomy Allies is barely a year old, and has already made positive impacts. As their site states, the allies “are people holding beacons of light to shine in the corners [offenders] are hoping to keep dark.” Click here to read more about this movement.

Female scientists’ #prettycurious campaign aimed at young women

By Thea Voutiritsas

The latest effort from energy company EDF to get girls engaged in science has created a polarizing debate. The #prettycurious campaign was an attempt to encourage girls to pursue study in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, but has received much backlash for its seemingly stereotypical view of female scientists. The #prettycurious hashtag has been met on twitter with the counter-hashtag, #prettysexist. The company argues that the wording was an attempt to start a dialogue centered on sexism and science, stating, “It’s not about being ‘pretty’; it’s about being ‘pretty curious.’”

Those opposed of the #prettycurious movement argue that the hashtag perpetuates the idea that women must be pretty to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), or that women must link their work with their outward appearance. Supporters argue that the use of the word “pretty” here sends the message that you don’t have to lose your femininity to work in Stem, and that any way to pique girls’ interest in science should be OK.

In my book, EDF should at least get an A for effort. While women continue to be a minority in STEM, the question we should be asking is, “How can we get girls into science?” Not whether adults will find a campaign controversial, or politically incorrect. By arguing over this, we are missing the whole point of the hashtag in the first place, which is to attract girls to science. Rather than focusing our efforts on EDF’s campaign strategy, let’s put some energy into getting girls into Stem at all.

For further reading, visit this post, or search the #prettycurious on Twitter.