Role models play an incredibly important role in developing a STEM identity for our students. Yet, there still seems to be an overwhelming tendency to default toward the “science guys” when trying to drum up classroom excitement for science. Yes, science guys have access to a big platform with highly produced bits featuring vibrant explosions and polished Hollywood-esque commentary. But, of course they do.
While I am thankful that science is getting the limelight through the science guys’ efforts, when we promote them as the default face of science, we are missing a massive opportunity to tell a more realistic story around science — one that features a diversity of both people and nature of scientific pursuits.
So when a group of middle school girls told me that the only scientist they knew about was Bill Nye, I was naturally frustrated. Of course, we took these frustrations to the only place I felt we could find an adequate and immediate sampling of scientists who are not the stereotypical “science guy.” Of course, that place is Twitter.
Hey science twitter, I’m co-writing this tweet with 8th graders from West Prep Academy and we want to give their science teachers more examples of scientists that are not @BillNye. Who you got for us? We want the ladies! pic.twitter.com/hx4vbDf70T
— Jeanne Garbarino, PhD (@JeanneGarb) December 6, 2018
“Science Twitter” as it is called can be an incredibly valuable resource for connecting with scientists, learning about different STEM fields, and getting your questions answered. But it can also be like drinking from a firehose. This was my very first viral tweet, and the incredibly generous response from women in STEM has allowed me to compile this list of role model examples for our students.
For more resources to help connect students and classrooms to more diverse STEM role models, you can check out:
- Here is my original Tweet thread containing a diverse array of scientist responses!
- Skype A Scientist — This is a free service that matches a scientist to a classroom for a 30-60 minute Q&A session. Topics can cover research interests, how the scientists got into their field, burning science questions, and more!
- Letters to a Pre-Scientist — The mission of Letters to a Pre-Scientist is to demystify science careers by creating personal connections between students from high-poverty schools and real scientists.
- 500 Women Scientists: Request a Woman Scientist — This platform connects women in science with anyone who needs to consult a scientist.
- Have a look at a few popular Twitter Hashtags (here is a visual compilation of inclusive science Twitter hashtags from Science Sam:
Feel free to use this hashtag word cloud I made that way they can find a communicator who talks about science from a perspective they care about: pic.twitter.com/8rkZCjRTT2
— 🔬science.sam (@heysciencesam) December 4, 2018
- This established Twitter List from Emily Graslie of the Chicago Field Museum
- This running Twitter list from Kayleigh O’Keeffe
- The Curiosity Science Program — born out of a Girl Scouts project, the goal of this site is to empower young women in STEM. Their “Meet the Role Model” page includes a information on a number of different women scientists.