women in STEM

5 Female Engineers Who Made History!

TMG is always super eager to remind you that women have been kicking butt in engineering throughout history - this isn't a new thing! Sometimes we all need a little reminder of how powerful women have ALWAYS been, so this week’s blog post is going to give you a mini history lesson by showcasing famous female engineers and their accomplishments over the years.

1. Edith Clarke (1883-1959)

Edith Clarke totally helped paved the way for the future of female engineers. In 1918, Edith Clarke was the first woman to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Recognized as the first female professor in the United States, Clarke taught electrical engineering at the University of Texas for 10 years.

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2. Emily Roebling (1803-1903)

Another pioneer in the field of engineering, Emily Roebling is one of the first women field engineers. Credited with being at the forefront of one the biggest feats of engineering for her time, Roebling is best known for her role as Chief Engineer during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883. Talk about impressive!

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3. Stephanie Kwolek (born 1923)

Stephanie Kwolek’s invented Kevlar, a stiff synthetic material five times as strong as steel that is found in the production of bullet-proof vests, as well as a whole range of everyday products including safety helmets, camping gear, snow skis and cables. Thank you Stephanie for inventing such a strong and useful material, we couldn’t be more impressed with your invention!

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4. Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

Hedy Lamarr is a total superstar who helped crushed stereotypes about women in engineering. When we say “superstar” we mean it literally – Lamarr was known as a star of the silver screen in the 1930s and 40s AND known as one of the women to help invent WiFi – yup, you heard it right – WiFi! How awesome is that?

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5. Mary Anderson (1866–1953)

The next time you’re driving in the rain and are freaking out about not being able to see in front of you BUT you decide to turn on those windshield wipers to help solve your problem of poor visibility, you should think about Mary Anderson, the inventor of the windshield wiper. Talk about a super useful and widespread invention – thank you Mary Anderson!

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5 Ad Campaigns That Legit Demonstrate #GirlPower

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Ads are legit everywhere and since we're CONSTANTLY bombarded by them, the messages they produce have a lasting impact. We really think the media has a responsibility to provide us with messaging that helps rather than harms, but sadly, that's not the way it works! The good news is that not all ads are created equal. In fact, we've even found a few that ACTUALLY aim to empower women. We're super obsessed with the crazy power that the media has over us and have been advocating for POSITIVE media messaging forever and ever and ever. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day, but at least we've found a few bricks and mortar. Check out our list of 5 ad campaigns that use their power for good instead of evil, and actually aim to empower and inspire women!

1. Always, “Like a Girl”

At the start of their ad, Always asks: “What does it mean to do something like a girl?” The response to this question is at first disheartening: girls of older ages mimic, based on learned stereotypes, what it means to them to “run like a girl”, “fight like a girl”, and “throw like a girl”. Plot twist: challenging these stereotypes adopted by older generations are younger girls, girls whose reactions to these questions are without influence from others; these younger girls simply demonstrate how to run and fight the way anyone would. These girls have the advantage of not yet being jaded by stereotypes and media that tell girls to be a certain way – we could learn a thing or two from them!  After breaking the news to the older girls about how the younger girls reacted to these questions, the older girls reflect upon their initial reactions and change their responses to reflect who they truly are. In fact, when asked if she would change her answer to the original question, one of the older girls responded with: “I would run like myself." We LOVE this campaign - love yourself for YOU, embrace yourself AS YOU, and don't let anyone tell you WHO YOU ARE!

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2. Dove, “Choose Beautiful”

In Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” video, women are given two doorways to walk through, each labelled differently. One doorway is labelled “average” and the other doorway is labelled “beautiful”. The video shows most women walking through the “average” door and then captures their reasoning behind this choice. According to the women featured in the video, the reason they chose to walk through the “average” door was because they were constantly put down by others, by media which dictates what "beautiful" is SUPPOSED to be...so they simply didn't feel entitled to walk through that doorway labelled “beautiful”. The message of the video is simple: rather than choosing to listen to what others say about your beauty, it is important to define beauty for yourself; a woman should #choosebeautiful - we LOVE IT!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DdM-4siaQw[/embed]

3. P&G, “Thank You Mom – Strong”

P&G’s “Thank You Mom – Strong” campaign, demonstrates the amazing amazing power of mothers. In a world where we often forget to recognize the power of our amazing moms, P&G highlights the importance of mothers in their child's lives! So often moms are portrayed as nagging, frantic women who can't seem to get it together - totally unfair and untrue! Alternating between flashbacks and current moments in athlete’s lives, this advertisement demonstrates the lasting impact that THEIR moms had on their super awesome lives. Showing a side of the mother-child relationship that isn't usually portrayed by mass media, this campaign praises mothers and challenges the stereotypes we have about the roles they play in our lives.

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4. Always, “Girl Emojis”

By interviewing girls of all ages, Always uncovers a problem with emojis: they fail to truly represent women and the roles they play in society. Okay, let's face it - we all love a good Emoji, no argument there! But the representation of women in emojis fails to be diverse; female emojis lack representation in a variety of professions and most of the female emojis are wearing PINK - like really guys?! It may seem like a little thing, but it's just another way that stereotypes are reinforced LITERALLY at the tip of our fingers! The solution? Always asks girls what Emojis THEY would want to see. The answer to this question is super-empowering and brings a huge smile to our faces here at TMG. They want to see female cops, cyclists, lawyers, doctors...they want to see THEIR life dreams reflected on their phones, not the archaic dreams of he status quo. Plain and simple, this ad is awesome.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3BjUvjOUMc[/embed]

5. Dove, “Beauty on your own terms”

This awesome ad opens with women reciting the same old same old:

“how can she be a lawyer?” “only skinny girls can dress well” etc etc ugh

The messaging women have had to swallow their entire lives piles up and totally makes the viewer feel completely dejected and...gross! Just when it feels like this ad CAN'T possibly redeem itself, the tone completely changes. Instead of succumbing to the bombardment of insults they've received their whole lives, these women speak back and stand up about the injustices they have faced. Words of retaliation are sung, fists are raised, stands are taken. SUCH a kickass campaign - guaranteed to pump you up and change your mind about what we are all truly capable of!

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Our advice after watching these advertisements? Talk and think about these videos! Share them with a friend, a family member, your network. What are they telling you about your belief system? What are they telling you about YOUR idea of what it means to be a girl? Finally, use your newfound wisdom to challenge the gender binary, challenge stereotypes, challenge others and most importantly - to challenge YOURSELF!

Guest Guru: Q & A with Mayim Bialik!

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Okay guys, this is a big one for us. Last year, one of OUR role models, Mayim Bialik, invited us to write a piece for her incredible and inspiring site, GrokNation. Today, she’s making a cameo on our blog as an ever-fab Guest Guru! Aside from being a kickass leading lady on The Big Bang Theory, she's one of the big players in the movement towards encouraging women to pursue #STEM. Mayim is an advocate that we totally look up to and wish we could hang out with on the daily - for real. We’re so pumped that she took the time to answer some of our burning questions! Q: Let's start with this: what is the absolute coolest thing about math and/or science?

A: Well, it's hard to pick one thing! I think the coolest thing about math is that it is a completely arbitrary set of names and labels we have given to a system that literally runs the universe. Instead of calling things one, six, and 500, we could also call them polkadot, badger, and violin. Math would still be math because it just IS and we find ways to explain what it is with words and symbols and labels.

Q: Why should high school kids stick with math and science instead of dropping them at the earliest opportunity?

A: The majority of jobs available to young people in the future will require some background in math and science. In addition, some of the higher paid jobs and jobs in the fastest growing most exciting markets require math and science. Plus, understanding math and science sets you up for understanding the world in a whole different way even if you don't choose to go into those for your career. It can help you plan for your life including finances, buying a house, and general decision-making. Also, it gives you an appreciation of the universe that can really change your perspective on life in great ways.

Q: I love love love that you're passionate about finding ways to encourage young women to enter STEM - that's what I'm all about! What are three things that you think we all could be doing that we're not?

A: More positive role models, more mentorship programs, and more funding from the government please!

Q: Girls often develop the belief that they're inherently bad at math much more frequently than boys do. Why do you think that is?

A: Girls and boys brains do tend to work differently, and this means that sometimes the female brain appreciates being taught in ways that have typically been designed to teach male brains.  Sometimes, girls need to be able to picture themselves as a mathematician or a scientist in order to be able to understand why the skills are even important to put in effort to learn. Also, girls tend to be more social, more verbally sophisticated, and more interested in different kinds of activities than these classes sometimes lend themselves to. Creative teachers and more funding for math and science in schools would help this a lot.

Q: I really really believe that a huge part of why girls aren't inspired to pursue STEM is due to the fact that popular media doesn't exactly paint STEM as inspiring or welcoming for girls. What do you think?

A: I think we definitely see a lot of stereotypes of females in the media when we think about women in science. In addition, our culture in general reveres youth and beauty over praising and understanding the kind of people who pursue a life in math and science. So I don't know that I would blame the media, but I think the media is part of a larger problem we have in our culture with what we value and how.

Q: Do you think that your character in Big Bang is finally a step in the right direction for popular media and representations of women in STEM? Have any young women reached out to you about our character?

A: A lot of people think the characters on the Big Bang theory are stereotypes and possibly negative stereotypes of nerds and geeks. I personally know people like all of the characters!  and while Bernadette is a microbiologist who wears more attractive clothing and cute headbands and Amy is more of a modest dresser, we are showing two different kinds of females in science and I love being a part of that.  Also, all of the characters on the Big Bang theory who are scientists enjoy their lives, enjoy the way their life is structured and have friends and successful relationships. I think that is very important to show on television.

Q: Lack of confidence is a major issue when it comes to girls pursuing STEM. What advice do you have for parents of young girls who develop a fear of math in elementary school?

A: Reinforcing that boy and girl brains alike can and should learn math is very important. There are a lot of programs online that parents can be involved with alongside their children to encourage them to build positive skills especially in the math department.

Q: How do you feel about the word 'nerd'? Yes or no and why?

A: I fall under the category of nerd and geek so I say yes!  I have been called a nerd a lot in my life by people who were being mean, but now the culture has shifted, I kind of like being called a nerd. I love all sorts of nerdy and geeky things and enjoy my life a lot because of those things.

Q: Is there hope? Seriously - do you think things have improved in terms of female participation in STEM fields, and do you see them continuing to improve?

A: I think there is definitely hope. You and the work you do give me hope!

For more info on Mayim and the amazing work she does to encourage young women to pursue STEM, check out her full-on website or visit Groknation! LOVE her SO MUCH!

Can you think of someone who you would love for us to feature as a Guest Guru? Holler at us: info@themathguru.ca!

Photo Cred: James Banasiak

 

5 Reasons to Watch Hidden Figures

Oscar season is just around the corner and thanks to Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, TMG is buzzing with excitement about this year’s red carpet. Telling the story of three African-American women who are BOTH mathematicians and scientists at NASA, this movie is extremely empowering. TMG is OBSESSED with the fact that this movie showcases the incredible abilities of women in STEM – we LOVE girl power! As if watching women crush and crunch numbers like total BOSSES wasn’t reason enough to see this movie, we are providing you with 5 MORE reasons to go and watch Hidden Figures. 1. Math and Science are Relevant

Showing you that math and science have USEFUL applications outside of the classroom, Hidden Figures makes you realize that what you’re currently learning is relevant to not only a potential future career but also relevant to your understanding of what kind of theoretical work is applied to NASA’s space missions.

2. Math and Science are Cool

Hollywood is cool, right?! And sexy, sparkly, glamorous, Hollywood is talking about a movie that features math and science. Therefore, Hollywood is making math and science cool. SO, be cool and get in on the Hollywood buzz!

3. Learn About History

Want to sound knowledgeable about American history? Go and watch Hidden Figures! Because this movie is based on a true story, you will come out of this movie knowing SO much more about an important (yet underrepresented) part of American history.

4. Strong Acting

Featuring fierce and fiery performances by Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P, this trio of women is one that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. With Oscar nominations to prove the star-quality of their performances, the acting in Hidden Figures will NOT disappoint.

5. Feel-Good Story

A lot of movies currently in theatres are super-heavy tear jerkers that have you leaving the theatre in a bit of a slump. If you want to be picked up, enlightened and empowered, this movie is the one to watch. Hidden Figures will make you laugh and cheer loudly for these amazing women, you will feel GOOD after leaving the theatre.

If you think about it, we have really given you 6 reasons to go and see Hidden Figures. So, get off of Netflix and get into a theatre to watch this empowering, inspiring and educational piece of highly talked about art that ACTUALLY features STEM!!!

 

 

 

Guest Guru: Meet Elizabeth Celentano!

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What even IS a "Guest Guru"? Let us tell you! There are so many amazing people with so many incredible voices out there, that we wanted to dedicate a part of our blog to giving these voices a platform. Our new "Guest Guru" feature is our way of showcasing the amazing awesome people and places that we've had the chance to discover, to create a community of shared experiences. You know what they say: two minds (or like, a million minds) are better than one! Our Guest Gurus might be featured once, twice or on an ongoing basis if they want to share as much as possible with you! We know that we don't know EVERYTHING, and we're excited to collab with people that know stuff that we don't so that YOU, in turn, can learn from them as much as we can. We hope that you enjoy our very first Guest Guru post! If YOU have a great idea for a Guest Guru that we can feature on our site - email us at info@themathguru.ca! The more the merrier - enjoy the ride!

Women in enginnering are super cool

Hello TMG readership!

To my knowledge, I am the first guest-blogger to join the TMG family! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share this space with you all.

My name is Liz. I am a full-time chemical engineer, working in a manufacturing plant. More importantly, I am a lifelong lover of math and science. More accurately, I am a 100% geek. Put whatever you want in front of it – math-geek, science-geek, music-geek, theatre-geek, board game-geek – I am EXTREMELY passionate about a lot of things.

That being said, I wouldn’t have loved math and science as much as I do just from my teachers at school. I was lucky enough to have an amazing tutor outside of school from grade 5 until I graduated high school that went above and beyond the normal school topics. He taught me to LOVE math contests and actually get pretty good at them (did you know you could get medals for MATH?!); he shared his love of astronomy with me (did anyone else see the recent super moon????); but most importantly he would teach me math in a way that made it relevant to me. He taught me that before Pythagoras existed, Ancient Egyptians would use knotted rope to create the right angles needed when building the pyramids using known ratios (later known as Pythagorean Triples). And in an unforgettable moment, he brought this demonstration to my house, and almost got my entire living room wet – but to this day I can recall the formulas for spheres, cones and cylinders without hesitation!

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I am hoping through these semi-regular blog posts that I can bring some relevant news or related topics to your attention to help get YOU excited about math and science! I’ll even talk about my work, what I’m getting excited about day-to- day, and I can even answer questions!

Stay tuned, and get excited for this collaboration!!!

#MyBeautyMySay

#mybeautymysay I have so much love for Dove's latest #MyBeautyMySay campaign that I wanted to share a story of my own. So here goes.

They said it was strange that a pretty girl like me wanted to be a math teacher.

I said, this ain't 1942. I'm confused. I was confused. I still am confused.

I was finishing my teaching degree, excited about the possibility of changing the world. I don't mean that in a dramatic way, I mean it literally. I was going to step inside classrooms and empower teenagers to do anything - to actually understand that they could do ANYTHING they wanted. And I was going to do that through math. If there was one thing I knew, it was that feeling stupid was one of the worst feelings in the world. And feeling as though I was inherently stupid (as many girls are made to feel, especially when it comes to M-A-T-H) made me feel powerless, lost, hopeless. That's why it was so important for me to become a teacher. I mean, there were tons of reasons, but the main one was that: to give teenagers a voice and to help them power the engine behind that voice. Through knowledge. Through understanding and finally believing that we - they - have the potential to do absolutely anything. Even math.

So there I was, heading into my first day of practice teaching, pumped and ready to change lives. I walked right into the math department and giddily announced to the first person I saw that I was a student teacher. And that's when it happened. This grouchy old math teacher - the kind they use in movies when they want to portray a stereotype of "THE grouchy old math teacher" - looked me up and down and asked: "what's a pretty girl like you doing becoming a math teacher?"

I laughed at first. But then I realized that he was serious. Like actually SERIOUS. I smiled politely and asked him just as seriously, if it was 1942. He didn't laugh. He didn't get it.

It didn't matter. That day I walked into the classroom and made it mine. Years later I still stay in touch with the students I had that very first teaching assignment, and I know that they built their engines, found their voices. Years later, people STILL give me strange looks and tell me that I don't 'look like a math teacher.' Try being in a rock band and teaching math in the same body - people don't get it and I don't get what they don't get! I'm glad that grouchy old math teacher gave me the extra fuel, the extra motivation, to make a real, tangible change. A change that will one day mean that no girl grows up thinking she's too pretty to be a math teacher, and that no boy grows up thinking that gender has anything to do with whether or not you can crunch numbers LIKE A BOSS.

I may not look like the math teachers you've seen in movies or IRL, but I look like me. I am a math teacher. This ain't 1942.

#MyBeautyMySay

 

Why Peace. Love. Pi.?

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Well, as the sweet scent of September soars in the air (along with the equally sweet scent of those school supply stacked Staples aisles), I figure it's time to do what I should have done LAST September: Start a blog!!! Hold up, we're moving too fast. Let's start at the beginning:) Hello, my name is Vanessa. I am the founder/director of learning and inspiration of The Math Guru, a boutique math and science tutoring studio in uptown Toronto which I started almost four years ago! Why did I decide to do such a thing you ask? Well, when I was in high school, I actually failed Grade Eleven math twice. Twice! Like many people who haven't found their educational guru, I hated math; until one day, I found mine.

My parents weren't too pleased with my whole "I'm just not a math person" thing and so they decided it was time for an educational switch. So, in Grade Twelve I headed to another school - and found my mathematical guru. Not only did my new teacher speak to me in words that made sense, but she inspired me to find the 'math person' within - the one that lies within us all. Most importantly, I learned that even though some things don't come easy, that with enough perseverance and perspective that those things do come - one way or another.

I couldn't believe that I had wasted such a huge chunk of my teenage life convinced that math just wasn't something that I was ever going to 'get', that this wonderful world of mathematics was simply off limits to some one like me. Totally insane, right?!

I became totally obsessed with the fact that there are a TON of people out there who just THINK that - believe that there's this type of person out there, with mathematical powers or something. Where do people get this idea in the first place? Why did I, for example, think that I didn't belong to this group of people?! Was it because I didn't fit the mathematical stereotype? Because I was artsy? Because I didn't have glasses and a pocket protector?! Because I totally didn't know the first thing about video games?! I was obsessed. So, I decided to get a closer look at the STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the way that those fields intersect with teenage culture - or don't! Pretty cool, I know. I ended up publishing a paper titled Imagining a World Where Paris Hilton Loves Mathematics and becoming an expert on the ridiculous ways that the media generates and enforces stereotypes of what it means to be a mathematician!

So back to the whole tutoring centre thing. After all that, I decided that my goal in life was to rid math & science of their bad reputation - to salvage those intricately beautiful bodies of knowledge from the clutches of media-induced stereotyping: To make math and science cool. That's right. Believe it! But first, I wanted to make sure that I did whatever I could to make sure that no one ever ever went through life thinking that they simply weren't 'a math person.' And so...I started The Math Guru, a super chill boutique math and science tutoring studio! TMG is a safe space where tutors are people too, where learning takes place with tea lattes in hand, and where anyone and everyone can learn to love math and science!

Over the years, I have seen an amazing number of math-haters convert to math-lovers, have watched countless teens change their view of what it means to love math, and have had the absolute pleasure of watching those who think that math and science are totally beyond them eventually get their dream job - you know, the one you imagine you'll have when you're a kid and you haven't learned that society views math and science as the domain of a chosen few.

Most amazingly though, I have seen countless teens experience what I experienced when my world was rocked by an awesome math teacher: not just that "I can do anything" feeling, but that "I can do anything and I want you to feel the same way too" feeling.  It's not just me that wants to make math and science accessible to everyone - it's all of the wonderful kids and adults that walk through our doors. How cool is that?!

So, what's the deal with this blog? Well, this is where you will find my musings on a variety of things including (but not limited to!) math and science education, teenage culture, our education system, STEM, and well, the way all of those things intersect - or often don't. You won't just be hearing from me - but from guest bloggers as well. You know what they say: It takes a village!

If there's a particular topic that you're interested in reading about, if you've got ideas on how to begin to unravel the tightly wound STEM stereotypes out there, if you get your hands on something I absolutely have to see/share, or if you want to write for The Math Guru, get in touch - I would love to hear from you!

The ocean can do what the drop cannot - let's DO THIS!

peace. love. pi.

vaneSSa