Working Scientist podcast: How to inspire young women to consider scientific careers

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Two projects aimed at boosting female representation in STEM have won the second Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science and Innovating Science, in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies.

Customised picture book by Jean Fan
Credit: Jean Fan

 

Jean Fan spent a year volunteering at a science club for high school students during her Ph.D. program at Harvard University and was struck by how many of them dismissed the idea of becoming scientists themselves.

“A lot of my students would make remarks like ‘I’m not quite a maths person,’ or would not see themselves as future scientists,” she tells Julie Gould.

“I really wanted to leave them with some type of gift to encourage them to continue developing their interest in science.”

As a result, Fan, who was the sole female graduate student in her Ph.D. bioinformatics program, launched customized, a non-profit that uses personalized educational storybooks (which she writes and illustrates) to inspire girls about scientific careers.

This week, at a ceremony in London, she won the 2019 Inspiring Science Award, one of two offered by Nature Research and the Estée Lauder Companies.

The second award, Innovation in Science, goes to Doreen Anene, a Ph.D. student at the University of Nottingham, UK.

In 2017 Anene launched The STEM Belle, a non-profiled based in Nigeria, her home country. The STEM Belle also works in Ghana and Pakistan. As its website says, The STEM Belle is “focused on leveling up the female representation in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics fields by attracting, retaining and advancing more girls and young women to STEM subjects and fields.”

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