Pictures via NASA, @jasminedbowers on Twitter, and emmasacademy.com.
February’s theme at GrasshoppHer emphasizes women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
February is also Black History Month in the United States. In observance of BHM and women in STEM, we’re going to take a close look at the statistics of women in STEM, black women who currently push the STEM fields forward for all women and women who, in the past, have paved the starting ground for their success.
While women fill almost half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs (according to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey).
This has been the case over the last decade, as college-educated women have raised their share of the total workforce.
The results provide conclusive proof of the need to promote and support women in STEM with the aim of gender equality.
Creola Katherine Johnson (August 1918 - February 2020) was a mathematician from West Virginia whose studies and calculations of orbital mechanics helped with the success of the first and the second U.S. crewed spaceflight. Not only did she start high school at the young age of 10, but she was also the first black woman to be enrolled in the graduate program at the University of West Virginia in 1939. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 because of her crucial knowledge of mathematics that helped the Apollo astronauts return from the Moon to Earth.
Mary Jackson (April 1921 - February 2005) was an American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which was called the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) before 1958. She became the first African American female engineer to work there. Her math and science skills earned her a position as a "human computer" at NACA.
Jasmine Bowers is the first black person to receive a doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Florida, and she did it in 2020, during a pandemic. Jasmine shared the announcement on her Twitter on July 19th, 2020:
“On July 15, I became the first black woman to defend a dissertation in CS at UF. ‘YOU MAY FAIL, BUT FALL STILL FIGHTING; DON’T GIVE UP, WHATE’ER YOU DO; EYES FRONT, HEAD HIGH TO THE FINISH.
SEE IT THROUGH!’”
Bowers said in an interview at becauseofthemwecan.com that “The Ph.D. was and is the pinnacle of the seed planted years ago, deposits from teachers, internship experiences, amazing mentors, a supportive Ph.D. advisor, and the push from my mother who is and will always be behind me reminding me, 'you can do this.'”
Last year, Emmanuella Mayaki made headlines because she was hired to teach coding at the Southfield Primary School in Coventry, England at only 10 years old. She had been studying coding since she was only 7 years old. The incredible young Nigerian girl was able to defy the odds and make history and inspire black girls everywhere. She will be responsible for educating other children her age about the fundamentals of coding, including HTML and CSS.