This week, the NPR radio show Science Friday asks the question, “can scientists be good storytellers?” While Ira Flatow and his guests examine that question later today, the blog Grandma Got STEM is looking at it from a different angle–namely, “where are the stories about women scientists?”
Grandma Got STEM is an online collection of stories about women who were trailblazers in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Why collect stories like these? Creator Rachel Levy, an associate professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, says:
Perhaps, like me, you are tired of hearing people say “how would you explain that to your grandmother?” when they probably mean something like “How would you explain the idea in a clear, compelling way so that people without a technical background can understand you?”
Here’s a similar saying you may have heard: “That’s so easy, my grandmother could understand it.”
I would like to counter the implication that grannies (gender + maternity + age) might not easily pick up on technical/theoretical ideas.
These “STEM-mas,” as Levy calls them, are chemists and computer programmers, mathematicians and aviators. Many of them attended college when it was uncommon or even discouraged for women to do so. Today, they continue to inspire a younger generation of women to pursue careers in STEM disciplines. As a niece of one STEM-ma shared:
Growing up in a family populated by artists of various sorts–architects, photographers, theatre historians–I often felt alone in my love of science and mathematics. My Aunt Tine has always supported my dreams of becoming a scientist, and helped me achieve those goals in many ways.
Are any of your residents women who paved the way in science, technology, engineering, or math? They can submit their stories to Grandma Got STEM and become a part of this inspiring project.