Throughout history, women have been at the forefront of critical advancements in science and technology, responsible for early developments in space exploration and aviation, and have led the charge to generate solutions for some of the world’s most challenging medical issues.
While women have always been present and leaders in these areas, they have often been given less recognition than their male counterparts. Despite the progress we’ve made as a society when it comes to gender equality, there are still considerable gaps when it comes to women in STEM, and biases and outdated stereotypes still exist. Currently, women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but only make up 27% of STEM workers.
The story we tell becomes the world we live in. Visual representation is a powerful way to help change the narrative around women in STEM. By making positive visual representations of women leading in these fields easily accessible for everyone to use, women and girls will be able to see themselves reflected in those roles and envision potential career paths. Innovation in STEM drives our economies, paves the way for new technologies, and builds the future. It’s critical that more women and girls choose careers in STEM so we can change the status quo and work toward a more equitable society for all.
This Women’s History Month, we’re paying tribute to women who have led the way in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics throughout history. From space exploration to vaccine research, early pioneers in medicine, chemistry, and more, our collection features images from a range of industries and the real stories of incredible women who have changed the course of history.
Pioneers in Space and Aviation
From mathematicians including Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, who were critical to the success of early U.S. crewed space flights, to today’s leaders like Diana Trujillo, who leads the Mars Curiosity Rover mission, women have been at the forefront of advancements in space and aviation for decades. Our collection features images from NASA’s archives, as well as images from the U.S. Department of Defense.
World War II Aviation Workers
During the second world war, more than 300,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry. Women became artillery inspectors, aircraft welders, assemblers, gear cutters, chemical analysts and more. These images from the Library of Congress were shot on 4×5 transparency film and drove a new type of wartime feminism, bringing women into the STEM field of aviation.
Doctors, Nurses and Medical Researchers
Early Trailblazers in Science
Stunning images from the National Library of Medicine and the Smithsonian include photographs of early scientists like microbiologist Alice Evans, who pioneered critical work studying pathogenic bacteria in dairy products, entomologist Sophie Lutterlough, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, and forensic ornithology pioneer Roxie Collie S. Laybourne.
The Next Generation
While women remain underrepresented in STEM, great strides are being made to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in STEM fields. Research shows powerful connections between positive representations of women in STEM and the impact those representations have on the future career choices of women and girls. By championing positive representations of women and girls in STEM and encouraging the use of visual resources that positively portray female leadership in these fields, we can help change the status quo and move toward a more equitable future.