Friday, March 31, 2023

Women Excel in STEM

A medieval transcription of Euclid's Elements featuring a woman teaching geometry.

Science has the power to expand our horizons and helps us to see how great God is…Our response to what we see in the world is rational, emotional and active: worship as well as systematic theology. - Ruth Bancewicz

From Presidents and CEOs of organizations, to researchers, science writers, and journalists, Christian women in STEM are leaders in their fields and paving the way for others to follow. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we highlight the work of ten Christian women in various STEM fields, including astrophysics, engineering, biology, and climate science. We also include science communicators who are doing the important work of sharing science with lay Christian audiences through writing and journalism. Of course this is not an all inclusive list of Christian women in STEM. There are countless others throughout history who have pioneered and unlocked discoveries in their fields. And there are many more contemporary Christian women in STEM fields like Mary Schweitzer who found the first evidence of soft tissue in a 68-million year dinosaur bone, Carol Hill whose research gave us a better understanding of the age and origin of the Grand Canyon, and Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician whose work helped send Apollo to the Moon.

Christian women are also leading important conversations on the intersection of faith and science, which has traditionally been dominated by white male voices. Faith and science organizations like the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) was previously led by rocket scientist Leslie Wickman, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Society (DoSER) program has been led by astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman, and BioLogos is currently led by astronomer Deb Haarsma. Christian sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund has dedicated her career to understanding how scientists and religious people perceive each other, helping combat misconceptions and bridge the communication gap between faith and science communities on important topics like Climate Change, COVID-19, and evolution.

Despite numerous role-models, Christian women still remain underrepresented in STEM, and the numbers are even starker for Christian women of color. Being a woman in STEM comes with its own set of challenges, but there are also challenges that are unique to Christian women. In an interview with BioLogos, Loryn Phillips, a graduate student in biology and member of the Christian Women in Science (CWiS) leadership board shared: “On top of the challenges that already come with being a woman in science, Christian women in science carry additional burdens. We don’t want to lose the respect of our colleagues or jeopardize our careers because we identify as Christian, especially when we desire to be public and vocal about sharing God’s majesty in our work with others.” Sadly even in the Church, Loryn shared that Christian women in science face the challenge of, “feeling ashamed or not feeling safe to discuss their research for fear of ridicule or judgment, and feeling alone.” There is still work to be done, but thankfully there isn’t a shortage of Christian women role-models in STEM for the next generation of women and girls to look up to and see themselves represented.

Read more here: 10 Christian Women to Know: STEM Edition - Post - BioLogosSister Mary Celine Fasenmyer; Sister Mary Gervase; Agnes Giberne: A Lover of Science; Christian Women in Science, Technology and Engineering

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