In 2018, I did a project called #STEAMwomen that featured one interdisciplinary STEAM woman every day for 51 days. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. While STEM grew popular in the '90s, STEAM adds art back into the equation as it recognizes the value of art in teaching creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking. All #STEAMwomen work(ed) in at least two different fields in STEAM, usually STEM and Art.
I hope this list inspires you to explore multiple fields:
1. Mary Anning
Mary Anning (1799-1847) was a paleontologist, geologist, scientific illustrator, and business owner.
2. Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) was an American-Austrian actress and inventor. Lamarr (with her friend George Antheil) invented a radio guidance system that blocked the threat of jamming by the Axis powers during WWII. This technology later contributed to the development of Bluetooth and WiFi. She also acted in 30 films throughout her career, most notably for Samson and Delilah. Not-so-fun-facts: She fled an abusive marriage. She received a lot of controversy over a risqué film at the start of her career.
3. Dr. Eugenia Cheng
Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician, pianist, and currently a Scientist-in-Residence at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cheng also wrote the book, How to Bake Pi, which connects math and baking as a way of learning mathematic principles and methods.
4. Merritt Moore
Merritt Moore is a ballerina and quantum physicist. She’s danced as a member of several ballets including Boston Ballet, English National Ballet, and Zurich Ballet. She has a PhD in Quantum Optics from Oxford. Moore believes strongly in balancing both passions and believes they intersect.
5. Nikkita Oliver
Nikkita Oliver is an activist, poet, teacher, attorney, and former mayoral candidate.
6. Julie Freeman
Julie Freeman is an artist using technology to explore nature. For her most well-known artwork, ‘The Lake,’ she electronically tagged fish and tracked their movements, later turning the movements into audio. Her EQ was: “Can the rhythmic beauty of a fish movement be translated into aural composition? Can fish make music?” Check out translatingnature.org to hear the audio and read more!
7. Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) combined psychology and engineering and later became an educator. She (and her husband) worked on creating a more human approach to time management and work efficiency. Together they ran a business, Gilbreth, Inc. In addition, Gilbreth invented many tools to make housework easier such as the trash can foot pedal and refrigerator shelves.
P.S. She also raised 12 kids 😳, and together two of them, Ernestine and Frank Jr., wrote Cheaper by the Dozen about their childhood.
8. Dr. Kiki Sanford
Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist and science communicator. Sanford conducted research in grad school, but now focuses on producing science education programs.
9. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and the first computer programmer. She believed in “poetical science” which came from her belief that technology and society should be collaborative.
10. Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was a computer scientist and Navy admiral. She received her PhD in mathematics in 1934. Hopper is best known for developing a complier for computer languages, which was a precursor to Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL).
11. Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a statistician, social reformer, and founder of modern nursing.
12. Alice Zheng
Alice Zheng is a machine learning researcher and technical leader. She has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science, and a BA in computer science for mathematics. Zheng is currently the Senior Manager in Amazon's Ad Platform, and she’s also writing an engineering book in her spare time.
13. Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik is an actress and neuroscientist. She’s also co-written two books and written one solo.
14. Marta de Menezes
Marta de Menezes is an artist who explores biology as an art media. From her website: “In 1999 de Menezes created her first biological artwork (Nature?) by modifying the wing patterns of live butterflies. Since then, she has used diverse biological techniques including functional MRI of the brain to create portraits where the mind can be visualised (Functional Portraits, 2002); fluorescent DNA probes to create micro-sculptures in human cell nuclei (nucleArt, 2002); sculptures made of proteins (Proteic Portrait, 2002-2007), DNA (Innercloud, 2003; The Family, 2004) or incorporating live neurons (Tree of Knowledge, 2005) or bacteria (Decon, 2007). Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures.”
15. Mary G. Ross
Mary G. Ross (1908-2008) was a mathematician and engineer. In fact, she was the first female Native American engineer.
16. Hunter Cole
Hunter Cole is an artist and geneticist. Cole has a PhD in Genetics, and she creates bioart. For example, Cole has a series of works where she manipulates bioluminescent bacteria and photographs it.
17. Gae Aulenti
Gae Aulenti (1927-2012) was an architect and designer from Italy.
18. Mary Kenner
Mary Kenner (1912-2006) was an inventor and florist. Kenner invented the sanitary belt and toilet paper holder.
19. Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla (1962-2003) was an astronaut and aerospace engineer. She was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space, and she died in the Columbia disaster.
20. Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver is a novelist, essayist, and poet. Before she started writing professionally, Kingsolver earned her BS in biology and MS in ecology and evolutionary biology. Her science background sometimes influences her writing.
21. Christine McKinley
Christine McKinley is an engineer, musician, and author.
22. Danica McKellar
Danica McKellar is an actress, mathematician, and non-fiction writer. McKellar is most well-known for her role as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, and McKellar also writes books teaching math to kids.
23. Kara McCullough
Kara McCullough is a scientist and Miss USA 2017. McCullough has worked as an emergency preparedness specialist.
24. Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison is an engineer, doctor, and astronaut. Jemison was the first African-American woman in space. In addition, she’s acted, including on Star Trek. Jemison is also a dancer. She choreographed a musical as a student at Stanford, took classes while at Cornell Medical College, and later built a home dance studio. Jemison strongly believes her dance background helped prepare her for her time in space, and that art and science go hand and hand.
25. Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Maria Gaetana Agnesi was a mathematician, educator, and linguist. Agnesi spoke seven languages by the time she was 11, and she taught all of her 20 younger siblings. Agnesi is considered the first woman to receive a reputation in mathematics. She wrote a mathematics handbook, developed a mathematic concept now called “Witch of Agnesi”, and became the first female mathematics professor at a university. Agnesi was a strong advocate for women’s right to be educated.
26. Lori J. Nelson
Lori J. Nelson combines art and technology as a visual effects producer. Nelson has a long list of credits including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Back to the Future II & III, Hook, Matilda, Men and Black II, 42, and many, many more.
27. Aileen Schumacher
Aileen Schumacher is an engineer turned mystery writer.
28. Sylvia Fedoruk
Sylvia Fedoruk (1927-2012) was a physicist, athlete (primarily curling), and 17th Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. She helped develop the first cobalt-60 radiation therapy to treat cancer.
29. Michele Audin
Michele Audin is a mathematician and writer. She has a PhD in mathematics and is a former professor. Audin wrote many academic papers before beginning her career as a novelist.
30. Susan Rogers
Susan Rogers is a professor and former sound engineer. She’s also worked as a record producer, mixer, and audio electronics technician. She’s most famous for working with Prince and Barenaked Ladies. In addition, Rogers has a doctorate in psychology.
31. Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad is a fencer and business owner. She’s the first Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics. Muhammad’s business, Louella, sells modest Muslim clothing.
32. Sabrina Thompson
Sabrina Thompson is an aerospace engineer for NASA and a photographer/artist. She focuses on art that tells a story.
33. Emily Willoughby
Emily Willoughby is a paleoartist (dinosaur illustrator) and PhD candidate in behavior genetics.
34. Maryam Mirzakhani
Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017) was a world-renowned mathematician and professor. She is the only woman to ever receive a Fields Medal. Mirzakhani believed in “crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields.” Her mathematic process involved doodling. She stated, “the process of drawing something helps you somehow stay connected.”
35. Stephanie Louise Kwolek
Stephanie Louise Kwolek (1923-2014) was a chemist and inventor. Kwolek is most well-known for inventing high-strength synergetic fibers aka Kevlar. She was the fourth woman added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
36. Florence Lawrence
Florence Lawrence (1886-1948) was an actress and inventor. Lawrence is considered to be “the first movie star” and was the first publicly named actress. In addition, she designed a “auto signaling arm” that led to the turn signal.
37. Dr. Kamini Rao
Dr. Kamini Rao is a doctor who is considered a pioneer in the field of assisted reproduction. For example, Dr. Rao is credited with the birth of the first SIFT baby in India. She has been awarded the Padma Sri, an Indian civilian award.
38. Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an educator and doctor. She is most well-known for her educational pedagogy, the Montessori method. She said, “We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”
39. Maya Lin
Maya Lin is a designer, architect, and artist.
40. Radia Perlman
Radia Perlman is a computer programmer, inventor, and engineer. She is most well-known for inventing spanning-tree protocol (STP). She is also a pianist.
41. Dr. Kitty Yeung
Dr. Kitty Yeung is a physicist and artist. She has a PhD in physics, and she creates high-tech fashion designs.
42. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she was the second female justice to be confirmed. Ginsburg studied law at Harvard while also being a wife and a mother. She actively fights for gender equality and women’s rights.
43. Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and the founder of Leanin.org. She is also an author, most notably for her book, Lean In.
44. Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was a writer, teacher, seamstress, and nurse. She is most well-known for writing Little Women.
45. Sylvia Earle
Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist, author, and lecturer. She was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earle is most well-known for launching Mission Blue, which establishes marine protected areas around the world.
46. Rita Levi-Montalcini
Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) was a neurobiologist and Italian senator.
47. Melinda Thielbar
Melinda Thielbar is a data scientist and children’s books author.
48. Annie Easley
Annie Easley was a computer programmer, mathematician, and rocket scientist.
49. Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist, conservationist, and author. Carson’s most famous book, Silent Spring, helped advance the global environmental movement by discussing harmful effects of pesticides.
50. Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube and has a bachelors degree in history and literature and masters degrees in economics and business administration. Before YouTube, Wojcicki worked at Google where she was part of the marketing team that initiated Google Doodles. In addition, she has five kids.
51. Minnie Spotted-Wolf
Minnie Spotted-Wolf (1923-1988) was the first Native American woman to enlist in the US Marine Corps. After her military service, she studied elementary education and taught for 29 years.
My #STEAMwomen poster is available for free as a downloadable resource in the Freebie section. If you'd like to purchase a physical poster, it's available for purchase here.
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