women in STEM

In the last of this three part series celebrating inspirational women I decided to tell you about not one but five inspirational women, past and present. Here’s a summary of the lessons you can learn from 5 inspirational women in STEM.  You can read more about each of them further on down.

 

  1. Neither the rocket fuel scientist Mary Sherman Morgan nor healthcare entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes finished college. I’m not advocating that women shouldn’t get a university education but if you didn’t get one and have a great idea or are passionate about something your lack of formal education needn’t necessarily be a barrier.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. Both Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer have received criticism for the things they have done and said. It doesn’t stop them. If anything it seems to propel them forward.

 

  1. Be the first. Don’t wait for someone else to pave the way before you. Astronaut Sally Ride and scientist Mary Sherman Morgan didn’t. Neither should you.

 

  1. Inspire others. Be a teacher and a mentor. Sally Ride and Marissa Meyer both taught others at some point. Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk has been watched by more than 5 Million times.

 

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t work in a man’s world. All of these women have carved careers out in traditionally male dominated environments. Mary Morgan was the only woman out of 900 engineers. Emma Watson recently posted this on Twitter.

Emma_Watson__Inspiring_our_world_s_youth__one_tweet_at_a_time

 

Read more about these inspirational women below.

Mary Sherman Morgan

Most people have never even heard of her but Mary Sherman Morgan was a scientist born in 1921, credited for the invention of Hydyne, a liquid rocket fuel used to boost the USA’s first satellite, Explorer 1 into space. Like all the women I have featured in this short series, Mary overcame obstacles to carve out a career. She started working on explosive during WWII, after being recruited for her knowledge of Chemistry when there was a shortage of men who had gone off to war. She was in college at the time and never got the opportunity to finish her degree. This didn’t stop from becoming a Theoretical Performance Specialist going on to work on rocket fuels for the space programme in the 1950s.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space when she flew on the 7th Shuttle flight in 1983. She was also the youngest American ever to fly in space. She flew again the following year becoming the first woman to do a spacewalk. She would have flown again but the Challenger disaster in 1986 halted the space program and she was appointed to the panel that investigated. She repeated this role after the Columbia disaster in 2003. Following the Columbia disaster she left NASA to become a teacher, writer, speaker and entrepreneur. She died in 2012 aged 61.

Sheryl Sandberg

Harvard MBA Sheryl Sandberg has two children, is a Director on the board of one of the biggest organisations in the world, Facebook, and runs various charitable organisations. You could say she has a lot on her plate. She’s honest in her book ‘Lean In’ about not being able to spend a lot of time with her children, something she has been criticised for. Although controversial, she has a real knack for identifying the root cause of some of the problems we face. When talking about the gap between the number of men and women in leadership positions she identifies that actually one of the main problems is lack of ambition in the first place. Whilst many women feel the world would be a much better place with women running things, sadly few of us have the ambition to do it. This starts back in school when girls are less likely than boys to want to be president or chair of school committees and teams. This needs to change if we want more women in leadership roles.

Marissa Mayer

This CEO of Yahoo is #18 on the Forbes list of most powerful women. Mayer has a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford and like Sandberg is a former Google Executive so you can’t help but think Google seems to make for a great training ground for women leaders, movers and shakers. Whilst working at Google Mayer taught at Stanford and has mentored other budding scientists. Like Sandberg, she’s controversial. In 2013 she banned telecommuting at Yahoo and made all remote workers convert to office roles. Her move was heavily criticized as a step backwards for parents and other workers with caring responsibilities although she did reportedly built a nursery on site. Controversy aside, she invests heavily in technology companies including crowd-funding ventures.

Elizabeth Holmes

At just 30, she’s America’s youngest billionaire and she’s about to revolutionize health care. Holmes has created a company that offers blood testing but not as you know it. Up to 70 tests can be run from just a pin-prick of blood making it much easier for the patients (especially if you hate needles) and cheaper for the labs. What’s more she dropped out of Stanford at 19 to pursue her dream. Keep an eye out for this one.

What lessons can we learn from these 5 women?

To recap from the introduction:

  1. Neither the rocket fuel scientist Mary Sherman Morgan nor healthcare entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes finished college. I’m not advocating that women shouldn’t get a university education but if you didn’t get one and have a great idea or are passionate about something your lack of formal education needn’t necessarily be a barrier.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. Both Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer have received criticism for the things they have done and said. It doesn’t stop them. If anything it seems to propel them forward.

 

  1. Be the first. Don’t wait for someone else to pave the way before you. Astronaut Sally Ride and scientist Mary Sherman Morgan didn’t. Neither should you.

 

  1. Inspire others. Be a teacher and a mentor. Sally Ride and Marissa Meyer both taught others at some point. Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk has been watched by more than 5 Million times.

 

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t work in a man’s world. All of these women have carved careers out in traditionally male dominated environments. Mary Morgan was the only woman out of 900 engineers.

What do you make of these inspirational women? Do they inspire you? OR is there someone else that make you want to go out and pursue your dream? As usual I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Lynsey

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