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Women scientists

Summer 2020

Talkback for Summer 2020

 

A woman’s place

When I started my career at WSU in the fall of 1969, I knew I wanted to be a biologist. My all-girl high school had an excellent science program. I spent the summer of ’69 working at the WSU Extension Center in Puyallup raising house flies and counting bark beetles in entomology.

My assigned advisor was in the zoology department. Apparently, he was pretty famous. His first question to me was, “Are you going into this professionally, or do you plan to get married?” Although I was a pretty timid 18-year-old, I stared at him and … » More …

illustration of girl writing math equations on chalkboard
Spring 2020

How to encourage a girl: Improving diversity in STEM

“Your daughter is obviously good at math,” the teacher says to the girl’s parents at a fourth-grade parent-teacher meeting.

The parents have noticed this, too, and suggest to the fourth grader that she study physics, astronomy, maybe engineering or another math-intensive field. As she gets older, she remains interested in all those things, but she’s also picking up messages that are telling her something quite different.

She and her family are avid Big Bang Theory fans. They’ve watched every episode. So even as her parents and teachers are saying, “You’re good at this!” and “Follow your passion!” she’s seeing portrayals of men in gendered professions, … » More …

Dinner with girl geeks - Kristin McKinney
Spring 2017

Dinner with girl geeks

Working for a Portland, Oregon, staffing firm in the late 1990s, Kristin McKinney ’95 helped recruit employees to the city’s burgeoning tech industry. The job unleashed her own geek.

“I found I had a bit of an inner nerd,” says McKinney, who got her degree in business. “I never really knew that.”

Her newfound enthusiasm was tempered by a sobering reality: Women then, like now, accounted for less than 30 percent of the computing and information technology workforce, according to the National Science Foundation.

McKinney, now a recruiter in Nashville, Tennessee, is working to reverse the trend. In 2013, she joined computer application engineer Rachel … » More …