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Women in STEM: Going Where No Woman Has Gone Before

From the first all-female spacewalk to Silicon Valley, women are going to unprecedented places.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

March 12, 2020

Women in STEM: Going Where No Woman Has Gone Before
On October 18, 2019, history was made when the first all-female spacewalk occurred. NASA astronauts, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, were the first all-female team that worked for over seven hours outside of the International Space Station to replace a broken power controller, according to The New York Times. NASA has intentionally worked to create space for females in all of its programming in recent years. For instance, Meir and Koch were part of the first ever class of astronauts to be 50% female and 50% male in 2013, states NASA. They are actively sending women to space with the goal to have the first female walk on the moon in 2024. Though the first all-female spacewalk was a momentous occasion, it wasn’t actually planned. When the controller was in need of repair, the best astronauts for the job were tasked to fix it. They just happened to be women. An all-female spacewalk was originally scheduled for earlier in 2019; however, it had to be cancelled because NASA lacked the appropriate-fitting spacesuits for two females to work outside of the space station at the same time.

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Of the experience, Koch said in an interview, which was posted by NASA that, “In the end, I do think it’s important, and I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing. In the past women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories of people who look like them, and I think it’s an important story to tell.” As women make a place for themselves on the “final frontier,” women are also making space for themselves in a place a little closer to home that has been dominated by men for years. Girls Who Code has been working to break gender barriers in tech by teaching computer science skills to nearly 200,000 young women as well as offering mentoring programs across the country, according to Vox. CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, says that the lack of women in Silicon Valley is a real problem. Because the culture is so male-dominated, women have a hard time landing jobs – and those that do get jobs don’t feel very welcome.

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In a podcast from Kara Swisher called Recode Decode, Saujani states: “Year after year after year, I get emails from my students saying, ‘I applied to Google, I applied to Microsoft, I applied to Facebook. I’m a 4.0 MIT student, Berkeley, Stanford, you name it. Can’t get my foot through the door. [And] you still have all-white-male panels. You still have serious bouts of sexual harassment and discrimination happening in these companies. You still have a culture that is not welcoming to women and people of color.” That’s why Saujani believes that women and people of color need to go out and start their own companies – in order to create their own cultures. But the key to starting your own company is having investors who will back you; therefore, women-owned companies need investors that are women – or men – who believe in the vision, culture and mission of female-led companies. With that, Girls Who Code isn’t just teaching young women how to code; it’s teaching them how to develop themselves to be women at the top in tech.

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Scholarships for Women in STEM

Fortunately, for female students, investment starts as early as high school and college. Many organizations, programs and universities want to encourage young women in their space and tech career pursuits with scholarship opportunities to help fund their higher education. Take a look at some of the Women in STEM Scholarships featured on Fastweb:

Women in STEM Scholarship

Deadline: 04/01/20 Available to: High School Seniors and College Freshmen through College Juniors Award Amount: $500 The Women in STEM Scholarship is open to entering college freshmen and current college freshmen, sophomores and juniors. You must be a female student majoring in a STEM field in order to be considered for this award. Get more information on the Women in STEM Scholarship.

VIP Women in Technology Scholarship

Deadline: 4/01/20 Available to: College Freshmen through College Seniors Award Amount: $2,500 The VIP Women in Technology Scholarship is available to female students who are pursuing a career in information technology or a related field. To be considered, you must submit a 1000 - word essay that defines a specific problem that you see in your community related to information technology, and recommend a solution that is thoughtful and likely to make an impact on the problem. Learn more about the VIP Women in Technology Scholarship.

Selected Professions Fellowship for Women

Deadline: 12/1/2020 Available to: College Graduate Students, Years 1 - 5 Award Amount: $5,000 up to $18,000 The International Fellowship is available to female students pursuing full-time study in a master’s or professional degree program in which women are underrepresented, including STEM, law, business, and medicine. Get more information on the Selected Professions Fellowship for Women.

Women in Wireless Communications Scholarship

Deadline: Varies Available to: College Freshmen through College Sophomores Award Amount: Varies The Women in Wireless Communications Scholarship is available to female students in the College of Technology at Idaho State University. You must be enrolled in the electronic wireless telecommunications program and demonstrate a strong academic performance, involvement in co-curricular activities and future goals in the field of wireless communications to be eligible for this award. Get more information on the Women in Wireless Communications Scholarship.

Society of Women Engineers - Boston Scholarship

Deadline: Varies Available to: College Juniors through College Seniors Award Amount: Varies The Society of Women Engineers - Boston Scholarship is available to female junior and senior engineering majors at the University of New Hampshire. Learn more about the Society of Women Engineers - Boston Scholarship.

AMWA Medical Education Scholarship

Deadline: Varies Available to: Graduate Students, Years 1-5 Award Amount: 4 Awards of $500 The Medical Education Scholarship is available to female medical students. You must be a student member of the American Medical Women's Association to be eligible for this award. Learn more about the AMWA Medical Education Scholarship.

Chevron Society of Women Engineers Scholarship

Deadline: Varies Available to: College Sophomores through College Juniors Award Amount: Varies The Chevron Society of Women Engineers Scholarship is available to sophomores and juniors at the University of Idaho. You must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be a member of the UI Soceity of Women Engineers, and be majoring in one of the following fields to be eligible for this award: civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science. Get more information on the Chevron Society of Women Engineers Scholarship. Finally, in addition to scholarships for women in STEM, there are a variety of programs, internships and fellowships exclusively available to female students studying in these fields. Fastweb features Programs & Initiatives for Female Students as well as College Internships & Fellowships for Women in STEM Majors. Remember that the Fastweb Scholarship and Internship database is constantly changing with new or updated awards. Check back often for the latest Women in STEM scholarships listed on Fastweb, and update your profile frequently in order to be matched to awards that best fit your major and career goals.

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