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Women in STEM

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The Wall Street Journal

In an article for The Wall Street Journal about a new book, “The Secret History of Home Economics,” Barbara Spindel spotlights alumna Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to attend MIT and the institute’s first female instructor. The book’s author, Danielle Dreilinger writes that Richards “believed fervently in the power of science to free women from ‘drudgery.’”

New York Times

Prof. Linda Griffith is on a mission to change the conversation about endometriosis “from one of women’s pain to one of biomarkers, genetics and molecular networks,” writes Rachel E. Gross for The New York Times. “The endometrium is inherently regenerative,” says Griffith. “So studying it, you’re studying a regenerative process — and how it goes wrong, in cases.” 

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins speaks with Rebecca Sohn of STAT about the Boston Biotech Working Group’s goal of increasing the number of women leaders and entrepreneurs in biotech and her hopes for the future of women in biotech and the sciences. “You want people to feel that they are free to participate in all the things wherever it leads them,” says Hopkins. “So I think the goal is just that people who really want to do this [pursue biotech] don’t face any greater barrier than anybody else. That everybody has equal access and education to do as they want to.”

McGonigal's Chronicles: Making Montana Connections

McGonigal’s Chronicles, a new podcast celebrating extraordinary people with Montana connections, recently launched with an appearance by Professor Dava Newman. In conversation with the host, Tim McGonigal of Montana Television Network, Newman discusses growing up in Big Sky Country, her excitement about becoming director of the MIT Media Lab, and the importance of role models. “All little folks have a great dream, and I think it’s all of our responsibility then to help empower them, help their dreams come true,” says Newman.

Boston Globe

A group of MIT scientists has announced a new plan, called the Future Founders Initiative, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the biotech industry, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “If we can’t advance discoveries at the same rate for women and men, that means there are drugs, therapies, devices, and diagnostics that are not getting to where they can actually benefit people,” says President Emerita Susan Hockfield. “If as a region we want to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do is not squander our resources.”

Women in Economics Podcast

Prof. Nancy Rose speaks with Mary Suiter of the Women in Economics podcast about what led her to study economics, her time working at the U.S. Department of Justice, and why teaching and mentoring are so important to her. “A couple of extraordinarily influential teachers are the reason I’m an economist today, and so part of it is just trying to pass on my enthusiasm for economics and my appreciation for what it’s enabled me to do to students,” says Rose.

The Washington Post

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Washington Post reporter Timothy Bella about the search for exoplanets and the James Webb Telescope. “I just remember seeing the stars and being overwhelmed by the beauty and the vastness and the mysteriousness of it,” recalled Seager, of a camping trip with her father that helped inspire her interest in space. “There’s something almost terrifying about it at the same time as it being so beautiful, because yeah, it’s so unknown, and it seems like it goes on forever.”

Diverse: Issues in Higher Ed

Cherish Taylor, a fifth-year PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, speaks with Pearl Stewart of Diverse: Issues in Higher Ed about how the MIT Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program, “exposed me to the possibility of a career in academic research. Prior to my time at MITES, having a career in science meant serving as a medical professional or forensic analyst,” says Taylor. “I had no idea universities housed large research facilities that allowed scientists to answer questions about basic science (and) human disease.”

Stat

Prof. Ruth Lehmann, director of the Whitehead Institute, speaks with STAT reporter Elizabeth Cooney about the importance of fundamental scientific research. “There are so many areas that are so important for science,” says Lehmann. “One is supporting fundamental research. But then there are other areas like diversity and disparities.”

The Boston Globe

The MIT Museum is hosting a virtual Girls Day on Saturday, March 13th, aimed at celebrating women who are exploring, researching and innovating in the STEM fields. During the free online event, participants can, “meet researchers who study everything from insect larvae to, um, poop, and how important those things are to science and society."

C&EN

Prof. Kristala L. J. Prather speaks with Korie Grayson of C&EN about her career path and her work harnessing the synthetic power of microbial systems. Of the importance of mentorship, Prather notes, “The exponential way in which you can actually have a positive impact is by taking good care of the people who are placed into your academic and intellectual trust. That’s how we make a difference.”

C&EN

In an article for C&EN, Marsha-Ann Watson explores what inspired Prof. Paula Hammond, head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, to pursue a career in engineering, how her research at MIT has evolved to focus on biomedical applications and the importance of inclusivity and diversity. Hammond recalls how her first female science teacher inspired her love of chemistry: “I learned that I loved chemistry and that I could actually use that interest to perhaps create things,” she explains.

CNN

CNN’s Harmeet Kaur spotlights alumna Swati Mohan PhD ’10, who was the guidance and controls operations lead for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission and also served as the mission commentator. Kaur notes that Mohan, who first became intrigued by space while watching Star Trek as a child, was the “eyes and ears” for the historic landing.

Mashable

Alumna Swati Mohan PhD ’10 served as the mission commentator who confirmed that the NASA Perseverance rover had touched down on Mars last week, reports Mashable. “Mohan led the attitude control system of Mars 2020 during operations, and was the lead systems engineer throughout development. The attitude control system points the vehicle where it needs to be and helps figure out where the spacecraft is oriented in space.”

The Real

Alumna Tiera Fletcher ’17, a structural design engineer working on building NASA’s Space Launch System, and her husband Myron Fletcher speak with the hosts of The Real about what inspired them to pursue careers in aerospace engineering and their organization Rocket with the Fletchers, which is aimed at introducing underprivileged youth to the field of aerodynamics.