United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Deputy Administrator of NASA Dava Newman pushed for a greater appreciation of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields during their “The Future of Science & Technology” talk at the OWN IT Summit Saturday.
The panelists discussed their experience solving 21st-century problems as women in a typically male-dominated field. NBC4 morning news anchor Eun Yang moderated the talk.
Newman said she wanted to change the acronym STEM to STEAMD to include art and design.
“We need to write our own history. You tell the stories,” Newman said. “You’re going paint my picture of how we get to Mars.”
Both women noted the absence of the history of women who have greatly impacted science and technology.
Smith named Grace Hopper, who invented the first compiler for a computer programming language, and Ada Lovelace, who is considered to have written instructions for the first computer program in the mid-1800s, as well as mathematician Katherine Johnson who recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with NASA, for leaving a particularly significant impact. As a mathematician, Johnson calculated the trajectories for Alan Sheppard, John Glenn and the Apollo mission.
“We’ve never seen a movie about Apollo with an African-American [female] elite mathematician in the team,” Smith said.
Sarah Smith (COL ’16), who attended the summit, said it is important that women are introduced to technology at a young age.
“They emphasized how the way women are socialized in technology at a young age needs to change and I completely agree with that,” she said. “We cannot let others destroy our confidence.”
The two technological giants ended their panel with advice for the next generation about raising girls to be strong, confident women.
“Don’t just tell her she’s pretty, tell her she’s pretty smart,” Megan Smith said.
Hoya Staff Writer Emily Tu contributed reporting.
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