Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018-08-26: Women's Equality Day and the Rise of Women in STEM

The women of the Autonomy Incubator

Its Women's Equality Day, and the women of the Autonomy Incubator are celebrating all of our hard work.  With degrees ranging in Social Science, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Media Production, and Computer Science, the women of NASA sport their STEM knowledge with pride.

According to the Economics and Statistics Administration, forty-seven percent of all jobs were held by women in 2015; however, they only held twenty-four percent of STEM jobs.  This is a big part of what has inspired the women of the Ai to pursue their education and empower other women to do the same.

One of the greatest aspects of the Ai is the female leadership.  From Danette Allen, head of the lab and Co-PI of the ATTRACTOR project alongside Natalia Alexandrov, another strong woman at NASA, to Lisa Le Vie, head of the HCI team, they each play significant roles here.  Additionally, they all lead a great example for the younger generation of interns that have the opportunity to be here, like Erica Meszaros, Meghan Chandarana, and myself.

Danette and Lisa even received Mentorship Awards at the beginning of this
month, nominated by Ai interns.  Danette received four nominations, and
Lisa received one.

As mentioned previously, there is a large variety of backgrounds and degrees represented at the Ai.  Erica has always dreamed of working at NASA since she was young.  With an educational background primarily in the social sciences and humanities, she described how "finding a place that recognizes the importance of scientific analysis informed by these disparate backgrounds as crucial, is difficult."  This leads to why we believe the Ai excels so well: "it draws from many different backgrounds in order to pursue its research goals."  Her work, specifically, looks at the use of "linguistic analysis to evaluate human/autonomous system teaming and interface design to aid in trusted autonomy," but surrounding her is very different research as well,  There are people working with deep reinforcement learning, mechanical engineering, and even, in my case, using digital media and social platforms to communicate the science.

Meghan had similar dreams of NASA when she was growing up as well.  "Without the women pioneers that came before me, I would not have even thought it was possible to do the research I do today," she explained.  "On a daily basis I am surrounded with strong, passionate, and talented women that challenge me to reach beyond the visible boundaries – in to the infinite potential that lays waiting to be discovered. My hope is that the work we do in the Ai shows young girls that they can do anything they put their mind to."

Erica, myself, and Meghan are the remaining female summer interns.  We
have all enjoyed every second of it!

Its amazing to see so many powerful women in a field that, statistically-speaking, is generally dominated by men.  As someone who has only just graduated high school, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people this early in my life and get a realistic view of the world of STEM.

In the words of Erica, "it’s so important to not only see gender representation at the higher levels but also to have the opportunity to see a workplace filled with intelligent and capable women researchers. This is the NASA I dreamed of as a little girl and the direction I hope it continues in the future!"

1 comment:

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