Women@NASA is an amazing site on its own, but since they’ve teamed up with Aspire 2 Inspire – a campaign to encourage middle school age girls to embrace engineering, math, science, and technology as future career paths – the site has just become more powerful.
Looking back on the way I was educated as a child, both through private and public schooling, I can see where I was discouraged to be interested in math and hard science. At some point I went from being in an advanced math group in the fifth or sixth grade to being convinced that I could not do math at all. The only D, I’ve ever received in my academic career was in Algebra 3 in high school. Let me tell you how heart breaking that D was to a straight A student.
Then when I started my undergrad as a young college freshman, my advisor bullied me and put me down by suggesting that even though I’d passed the entrance exams with flying colors, and had completed the prerequisite English courses in high school that there was no possible way that I should be in the advanced writing courses . Just look at my remedial math scores, he said. So I quit school before I ever started and went back ten years later – and with trepidation decided to get my math courses out of the way early so I’d have time to recoup my GPA from whatever damage they did to it.
Lo, and behold, I discovered that I wasn’t bad at math. I aced both classes and realized that all those years ago, I had been discouraged from being successful because I was a girl. Where the boys in my class received praise, encouragement, and extra help; I was berated, talked down to, and even poked fun at by my teachers. Since I graduated high school there has been a campaign started to encourage girls who show promise in math and science to pursue those fields through their education and then take on positions in those professions. It’s nice to see.
The site has over 64 videos and essays from the women working in different fields for NASA sharing their experiences as employees at NASA, how they’ve overcome obstacles presented to them throughout their lives and careers, and offering encouragement and wisdom for girls who wish to follow in their footsteps.
Navigation is easy. No, really, it is. Just click on anything interesting to you on the site and you’ll be good to go – and then you’ll click the next interesting thing, until you’ve watched and read everything. At least that was my experience. More formally there are featured articles and videos on the main page, and a handy dandy navigation bar across the top of the page with the categories About, Careers, Blog, A2I, NASA GIRLS, Spotlight, Events, Get Involved, and Outreach.
Another great way to navigate is to start with the videos, right below the navigation bar, just click a video to start watching. It will take you to the biography page of that woman and you’ll have access to her video and essay. Then you can just click the back button and watch the next video.
I’ve shared this site with everyone in my life, over multiple social networks, I’m sure people are tired of seeing me post it or post certain videos, but I really find the message here inspiring. I hope that you will too and that you’ll share it with everyone you know.