Women in Engineering - Celebrating National Women's History Month - Vol.4 #6

"Just because you don't fit the classic mold, doesn't mean you can't be a leader."

Jess Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Polyvore

In recognition of Women's History Month and last week being National Engineering Week, we would like to celebrate the contributions women have made to the STEM field. Beginning in 1967, Congress proclaimed that March would be designated to celebrate the achievements and contributions that women have made to all aspects of society.


In this post, we wish to concentrate on the accomplishments of women in the engineering field. Women account for nearly half of the workforce in the United States. According to the U.S Department of Labor, 59 percent participated in the field of social science, 14 percent were engineers, 47 percent mathematicians, and statisticians, 25 percent were computer scientists, and 41 percent worked as life scientists. These numbers continue to grow and have exponentially increased since the 1970's.

Here are some amazing women from all around the world who are making differences in engineering and computer science today:

Frances Allen is a pioneer in computer programming. Born in Peru, New York, she attended the New York State College for Teachers earning a bachelor degree in mathematics. She then recieved a master's degree in computer science from the University of Michigan. Frances went to work for IBM were she taught incoming employees the basics of a computer programming language called Fortran. She only planned to stay as long as it took her to pay off her student loan, but ended up staying for the next 45 years.

Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian born mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University. She received her bachelor degree from the Sharif University of Technology and later came to the United States where she earned her doctorate degree from Harvard University. In 2014, she was awarded one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics, the Fields Medal for her contributions in the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces. She was not only the first female to receive this award, but also the first Iranian to be honored. The world sadly lost this mathematical pioneer in 2017 due to her battle with breast cancer.


Ruchi Sanghvi was born in India and received both her bachelor and master's degrees in electrical computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She went to work for Facebook, where she was not only one of the sites early engineers, but was also the first female one. Sanghvi was instrumental in developing the sites News Feed. She later left Facebook and started her own company, Cove, with two other co-founders. Cove was later purchased by DropBox where she became the VP of operations.

Not only was Mae C. Jemison the first African-American female to be accepted to the astronaut training program at NASA, she was also the first African-American woman to go to space with Endeavor mission. She began college at the young age of 16 and went on to receive both a bachelor degree in chemical engineering and a BA degree in African and Afro-American studies. In 1981, she obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree at Cornell University and for a while was a general practitioner. In 1983, Jemison applied for Nasa's astronaut program, but it was delayed due to the Challenger crash in 1986. She reapplied in 1987 and would learn that she had been accepted. In 2017, Lego introduced a "Women of NASA" lego set, which would include mini-figures of Jemison as well as other female astronauts.

This is a very short list of the women that are working in and have contributed to the science and engineering fields of today. Check out Business Insider's article, The 43 Most Powerful Women Engineers of 2017 for other extraordinary women in STEM!

Let's Get Excited About STEM


Here are some activities to get your students excited about STEM. Children possess the natural curiosity and willingness to learn new STEM concepts, especially when there is a cool hands-on activity involved. Check out the activities below and try them out in your classroom today!

Science-Let's make a rainbow jar

Teach your kids about molecules and density by making this rainbow jar. This activity needs a few more materials than the usual activities we post but will be worthwhile when your students complete it.


Here are some items you will need: A see-through container, honey, light corn syrup, dish soap, oil, rubbing alcohol, water, food coloring, and a dropper.


For more information on this activity visit that Playdough to Plato website.

Technology-Graph Paper Programming

Introduce your students to basic programming and algorithms using graph paper. One great thing about this activity is that it comes with printouts, as well as an instructional video.


Please visit Code.org for the materials you will need as well as a detailed set of instructions for this activity.

Engineering-Let's make a straw bridge

Let's build a bridge out of plastic straws and see which teams bridge can hold the most weight.


Items that you will need may include: tape, yarn, scissors, paper cups and straws.


For more information on this activity please go to the Playdough to Plato website.

Math-Math Fact Dominos

This is a fun activity that you can do with students of all Math levels.


In this activity, all you will need is jumbo size popsicle sticks and two different colors of stickers to go on each. One color will represent the math fact and other the answer.


Click here for the full activity.


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