Summer Reading Contest Winner, Week 3: On ‘NASA Names Headquarters After Its First Black Female Engineer, Mary Jackson’

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Summer Reading Contest Winner, Week 3: On ‘NASA Names Headquarters After Its First Black Female Engineer, Mary Jackson’

Chandini chose the article “NASA Names Headquarters After Its First Black Female Engineer, Mary Jackson”, which detailed the remarkable career of an aeronautical engineer, and wrote:

If I said I was an Indian-American girl and interested in STEM, I doubt anyone reading this would be in shock. I guess my love for math and science makes me an embodiment of the Indian stereotype or, in other words, a nerd.

Given this, when my seventh-grade science teacher asked our class to draw what they thought a scientist looked like, I naturally drew myself. However, each kid showed doodle after doodle of old, Einstein-Esque white dudes. I was the only student who drew a brown-skin girl with dark, frizzy hair.

Imagine my confusion- one look at me, and my peers peg me as the nerd type. Yet, I don’t look like a real scientist. This article proved to be a remedy to much of my confusion. My classmates and I weren’t aware of influential women of color in science because they were not recognized, not because they didn’t exist. Although reassuring, I was angered by the erasure of such important people. When Carolyn Lewis expressed her sadness, as women like her mother are not praised, “until maybe after [they’re] gone,” I felt immense remorse and anger. The anger was because a blockbuster movie was needed to inspire changes, which could have made school easier for girls like me.

Although NASA’s plan gives me hope for women of color in STEM, the best outcome of reading this article is the research I did and the women I discovered. Wait until my science class finds out about Mileva Marić Einstein.

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