Female representation in science is minute. Today would be as good a day as any to discuss this, but it also happens to be the 6th International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The UN headquarters will hold a virtual Assembly for this reason. The theme is Beyond the Borders: Equality in Science for Society.
Women and Girls in Science
Having more women scientists is essential for achieving the 2030 Development Agenda, the 17 SDGs and for gender equality. If there are more women in science, there will be more gender equality. Governments, institutions and CSR-driven corporations all over the world, including India, have been trying to engage more women and girls in science, yet they continue to be excluded from participation in STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
These young STEM influencers are changing this narrative. They are getting kids – especially girls – around the world interested in science and tech.
TIME magazine’s first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’ in 2020, this child genius is an American-born Indian. All of 15 years old, she has already given three TED talks and won so many awards (including America’s Top Young Scientist) that we could write a book on them.
Gitanjali became an inventor early, at the age of 12 when she invented a device to detect lead contamination in drinking water. The handheld device, which she named Tethys after the Greek Goddess of clean water, sends the status of lead in the water to a smartphone app, so that practically anyone can find out if their tap water is contaminated. She later invented Epione which diagnoses opioid addiction early on because she saw more cases of addiction on the news. Her app and browser extension Kindly uses AI to help prevent cyberbullying in teenagers.
The teen scientist feels that we can change the world by taking an alternative path to innovation. She wants young people to come together to build on the latest developments in science and make a difference in society. For this reason, she has written an interactive book for students. Her book A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM gives a step-by-step process for identifying problems and developing solutions, so that everyone can make a positive impact on society. This is one STEM influencer indeed!
Aditi Prasad (and her identical twin sister Deepti Rao Suchindran) are on a mission to have more girl-innovators in coding and robotics. Aditi was the Keynote Speaker at UNESCO’s Policy Forum Cracking the Code: Girls’ Education in STEM, held in Bangkok in August 2017. As COO and CIO of her company Robotix, she is harnessing the power of robotics, coding, STEM and Maker-Space to make school education more interactive for young girls and boys.
Rather than making a tonne of money in a lucrative job, Aditi decided to use her degree to promote educational pathways that lead to better careers for girls. Her initiative Indian Girls Code is a free hands-on coding and robotics education programme for underprivileged girls. Before starting the IGC initiative, Aditi travelled to different countries where she attended robotics expos and educational conferences. She built her arsenal with various tools and apps for teaching the kids. The initiative was so successful, both Niti Aayog and UNESCO have given it recognition.
This software engineer from Chennai wants to get more teens interested in coding and programming. Bhavani Ravi fell in love with coding as a kid, when a passionate school teacher taught her how to code. Even though her career is enough to keep her busy, she likes to pay forward all the motivation she received by running tech communities. Bhavani runs two tech communities in Chennai: Build2Learn, where she motivates college students to learn technology by building cool stuff, and WomenTechMakers, where she enables a forum for talented women to explore the male-dominated tech world. She also blogs about women in tech.
On the 2020 International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we salute these young and female STEM influencers who are nurturing the innovators of tomorrow.