“There is a lack of role models, a flat-out lack of exposure, a stereotype bias of what is a technical person. It’s held by parents, it’s held by the media, it’s held by teachers. There’s no social cost to a boy to take computer science in school. Girls have to take the brave step of saying “I love this stuff,” take a class with 90 percent boys, probably a male teacher, overcome the media message, defy their social group. Add on the layer of being a minority, it’s another challenge.”

Source: Ruthe Farmer, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer and Director of the K-12
Alliance for the National Center for Women and Information Technology, CNBC’s “‘Black Girls Code’ aims to reboot diversity in Tech” article

Stephanie Espy

Author of STEM Gems, Chemical Engineer, Founder of MathSP, and Mom

“STEM isn’t a special brain. STEM doesn’t come from a life of privilege. STEM is simply an exposure to what is possible and an internal belief that anyone can be a STEM Gem.”

I am one of the women who earns 19 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering as well as one of the minority women awarded 3 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

I earned a BS in chemical engineering from MIT,  MS in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley and MBA from Emory University. I have felt the gender gap first hand; I have sat in classrooms and worked in industry where I can count on one hand the number of women in the room.

Fortunately for me, I grew up with strong STEM influences. Both of my parents are engineers. Two of my three siblings have STEM degrees. Uncles, aunts and cousins are scientists, programmers, engineers and mathematicians. I’ve been lucky to have so many role models in my reach.

But, STEM isn’t about having a special brain. I truly believe that STEM doesn’t come from a life of privilege. STEM is simply an exposure to what is possible and an internal believe that anyone can be a STEM Gem. Even you!

I have always been passionate about STEM – and I’m equally passionate about getting more girls and young women excited about STEM too. I wrote this book with a mission: to help girls and young women to see their future selves as scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, and to show them the many diverse options that exist in STEM.

Most of the STEM fields in this book you won’t see on TV or in a movie (especially with a female lead). In fact, in my teenage years, I didn’t know many of these options existed. This book allows girls and young women the chance to explore STEM fields that they may have never otherwise dreamed of through the stories of 44 inspiring women STEM leaders.

Through these women’s stories, girls will have their pick of role models who offer tangible advice and guidance. In addition to these stories, I also include eight chapters that outline actionable steps to help girls and young women get on their way to becoming STEM Gems too.

This book is the book I wish I had growing up.

  • Worked as chemical engineer for BP (formerly Amoco) in various capacities to solve real-world problems, including creating models to interpret gas dispersion experimental data and describe the impact of a potential gas explosion by wind speed, direction and other factors
  • Used metabolic engineering techniques in various rubber-producing plants housed at the United States Department of Agriculture to improve the quality and yield of natural rubber grown in the U.S.
  • Founded MathSP Academic and Test Prep Coaching to empower the next generation of STEM leaders by imparting “STEM fluency” – the ability to problem solve, think critically and logically, apply theory and innovate – to Georgia’s students
  • Noted speaker at schools, organizations and conferences to empower girls and young women to explore options within STEM and adopt role models for encouragement and inspiration

Minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers.

Source: National Girls Collaborative Project and the National Science Foundation