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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Hear the Scirens Call to STEM

By Phil Plait

I’m really pleased to see so many people and organizations doing what they can to inspire young girls to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) paths in school. Women are still severely underrepresented in those fields. It’s a complicated situation—endemic sexism at the professional level, unconscious bias about teaching girls at the grade-school level, and everything in between—but one thing that I think will help is raising awareness and making sure there’s a positive, supportive atmosphere out there.

That’s why I’m very pleased that my good friends, the Scirens—Taryn O’Neill, Gia Mora, Christina Ochoa, and Tamara Krinskyhave created a short video in honor of International Women’s Day to help girls get into STEM.

The Scirens are four actresses who love science and are great science communicators. They do a lot of outreach, getting science out to the public in clever ways. They have Science Soirées, private but very informal get-togethers with a scientist speaker and a curious audience of people who are free to ask questions and spark conversations. Christina (as part of the Nerd Brigade) helps organize science Q&A sessions at the L.A. Natural History Museum as part of First Friday there (I was just at one last week and it was really great; lots of people attended and were clearly loving it). Gia has a one-woman cabaret act called “Einstein’s Girl,” an allegory of physics and love, and it’s really good (I saw it last year in Denver). And lots more.

Having role models is important. A lot of the time, kids don’t see people like themselves on TV, in movies, or online, and that is certainly true for girls when it comes to science. We’re doing a lot better with that now, but that doesn’t mean we can relax. We need to keep making sure this message gets out, and making it even more diverse and inclusive, so that anyone, everyone, can feel that they can choose to pursue a STEM career if they want to.

Realistically, that will take a long time and will involve a lot of work and broadening of our efforts. But we’re facing the right way, we’re moving in the right direction, and every time we make that path easier, we all win.

Update (Mar. 10 at 20:00 UTC): To be clear, the Scirens don't officially do the Q&A sessions at the LA Museum; Christina does that and she is part of both Scirens and the Nerd Brigade.

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