Celebrate Women's History Month!
Marie Curie, Patricia Era Bath, Flossie Wong-Staal - and You
March is National Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme, Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics aims to honor and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women who have used their imagination and intelligence to make outstanding contributions to the STEM fields.
Women of every race, class, and ethnic background have played critical economic, cultural, and social roles in every sphere of life throughout history, yet as recently as the 1970's, women's history was virtually an unknown topic in school curricula or even in general public consciousness.
This began to change after President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women's History Week (read his inspiring dedication message here). The declaration encouraged wide-ranging political support, and seven years later, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity.
Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in STEM is the perfect theme for us here at Girl Scouts of Greater New York. We are excited about all the new STEM programming we are introducing to you this year, and we are committed to ensuring that every one of you has the opportunity to discover the wonderful world of STEM for yourselves.
Last week at our Annual Meeting we had a chance to hear from five Girl Scouts interested in careers in environmental science, actuarial science, biology, and architecture. Each girl was inspired by experiences at home, at school and at the Girl Scouts. And, on March 16th, over 600 Girl Scout girls and volunteers joined us at the New York Hall of Science for the launch of STEM-in-a-Box and a day filled with a broad range of STEM activities. Throughout the year and in the future, we plan to bring more and more of these opportunities and experiences to our New York City Girl Scouts.
This year, the National Women’s History Project has chosen 18 amazing women as honorees for National Women’s History Month “because of their pioneering work, scientific breakthroughs, life-saving discoveries, invention of new technologies, creation of organizations, as well as the promotion of women and girls in STEM.”1 They include women like Patricia Era Bath, an American ophthalmologist, inventor, and academic who broke ground for women and African Americans in a number of areas; the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose, her laser probe is used to treat eye cataracts that cause blindness. - Susan Solomon is an atmospheric chemist who worked for most of her career at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and received the National Medal of Science for Chemistry in 1999 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 (she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2009. - Flossie Wong-Staal is a Chinese-American virologist and molecular biologist who was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes, a major step in proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS.
Today, we almost take for granted these women and thousands like them who pushed the boundaries in law, history, art, politics, and virtually every other field; who looked at the world around them with inquisitive eyes; and who insisted on making their way and claiming their place in history. Join us in celebrating them by reading about and discussing their lives and accomplishments during your next troop meeting; by exploring one of the city’s STEM centers of learning; by participating in one of our STEM programs; and by making one of these fascinating subjects your own.
1: 2013 Women's History Month Brochure, available at http://www.nwhp.org/whm/2013_copymaster.pdf