Reflections: An angry STEMinist post by Nicole
Have you ever looked up your birthday on some online database to see who else shares your birthday? Well, I share my birthday with Kristen Stewart and Hugh Hefner (RIP). On my birthday, NASA introduced the first astronauts to the world, Henry V was crowned the King of England, Spain and the Netherlands signed the 12 Year Resistant Pact... and then subsequently ended the Pact on the same day... 12 years later. Most of these events are pretty irrelevant to me, but it's always intriguing to think about what events happened on that national holiday AKA my birthday. ;)
As the Femmes of STEM social media intern, I found myself looking at STEM-related "on this day" databases online pretty often to find relatable content to post on our slower social media days. WELL, after awhile I became SO. DAMN. TIRED. of all the old, white men and their accomplishments being mentioned on these databases. I never did the math, but I would venture to say less than 10% of the dates shared on "STEM On This Day" databases included women, their birth dates, death dates, and accomplishments; and about 1% were about POC women in STEM....
DISGUSTING! I was truly flabbergasted and exhausted with all the Caucasian male accomplishments. Enough tooting your own horn, I get that you came up with this really important physics theorem, but it doesn't help me find content for the FEMMES of STEM. So, I mentioned it in passing during a meeting with our Femmes of STEM founder Michelle and my fellow intern Vishnu. Somehow, this idea blossomed. We threw around the idea of creating our own online databases, and thus the "Official" Femmes of STEM On This Day and Historical Femmes Masterlist databases were born! Happy birthday databases, should I put this down in my #OTD database? ;)
The three of us went into OVERDRIVE trying to find women in STEM in every nook and cranny on this entire Earth, and honestly even the universe itself. We focus on historical women in STEM, because they are largely ignored in our textbooks and libraries, and without their ideas and contributions, none of us would be the same we are today. Before starting the research for this project, I was the social media intern. What the heck did I know about research?! The answer is: NOTHING. Luckily, Michelle and Vishnu were Research Pros and Excel Aficionados, so they supported me every step of the way. While I wasn't truly passionate about history, I did think I was pretty proficient in all things Feminist, but boy was I wrong. I could never even imagine how much this opportunity has inspired and empowered me as a woman in STEM.
One of my biggest breakthroughs in compiling data for this database was a scanned PDF of a book called "Women Inventors to whom Patents have been granted by the United States Government". It's a mouthful, I know. But the most beautiful thing happened when I started to go through this book. I saw names of women engineers, housewives, and ultimately all inventors of some sort that were probably never even given credit, or recognized for their work besides in the pages of this forgotten book. (Sorry, author... it's a great read, I swear!) The more I thought about it, the more emotional (EMO!!!!) I became, because I somehow stumbled upon this wealth of knowledge and now I had the opportunity to share it with anyone who would listen!! Or, erm.... visit our website, I guess..
These women inventors really fueled my fire to keep going and find at least one "event" for each day of the calendar year. I didn't want my database to include only births, and I was hesitant to include deaths at all, so I really struck gold with the fact that this book included the actual date that the patents were accepted. I've truly only made it through a fraction of the entire book, and I'm going to continue to work on adding these dates to my own database, and adding the women inventors to our Masterlist of all Historical Women in STEM. This project has taken months, and I'm so thrilled to finally share my baby with all of you! I will probably continue working on this database until the day I die.... or until the Internet becomes irrelevant and we are all holograms... or until Michelle decides she's finally had enough of me... But I don't think any of those events are really likely for quite a few years ;)
As always, if you have a submission for our On This Day Database, PLEASE feel free to share it with us. I am still somehow missing two dates that I can't find a relevant women in STEM event for, but I won't rest until I do. Thank you so much for reading this and for visiting our website, it truly means the world!
Femmes of STEM Social Media Intern
Nicole is a fourth-year undergrad student studying Biology on the Pre-Med track. Besides feminism and finding badass women in STEM, she also has a passion for photography, graphic design, and all of the Jurassic Park movies. On the weekends, you can find her in a coffee shop laughing at vine compilations, writing furiously in her day agenda, or tweaking her LinkedIn account to pretend to look like an adult.