In 1958, chemist Betty Lou Raskin, addressing the American Association for the Advancement of Science, blamed "cultural conditioning and poor vocational guidance" for women's lack of interest in scientific careers. In the address, titled "American Women: Unclaimed Treasures of Science," she also said:
They have made the mink coat, not the lab coat, our symbol of success. They’ve praised beauty, not brains. They’ve emphasized leisure time, not hard work and originality. As a result, today’s schoolgirl thinks it far more exciting to serve tea on an airplane than to foam a new lightweight plastic in the laboratory.
Women have faced a plethora of obstacles in the maths and sciences over the centuries. Barriers, both formal and informal, were erected in the paths of women who wished to learn. Political measures, laws, and declarations kept women from having access to formal schooling up until last century. Social injunctions and expectations barred their way, such as the treatise Sex and Education, written by Edward C. Clarke in 1873, which declared that an overindulgence of mental stimulation and education would render a woman barren.
Professional, academic, and social organizations that promoted women in STEM professions have existed for decades, such as the American Association of University Women (f.1881), the Society for Women Engineers (f.1950), and the women’s scientific organization Sigma Delta Epsilon (f. 1921. In 2016, the National Council voted to rename the organization Graduate Women in Science).
Disregarding the implications and often times dangers of continuing their educational pursuits, many charged through, creating a new path for others to follow, as they ignored social and political stigma to further their knowledge and research.
Association for Women in Science (AWIS) - Founded: 1971. The largest multi-disciplinary organization for women in STEM
Kansas City Women in Technology - Founded: 2013. A grassroots organization dedicated to raise awareness and increase the number of women involved in technology-related fields in the Greater Kansas City Area.
Scientista- Founded: 2011. An organization that provides a platform and resources to address the needs for pre-professional women in STEM.
National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP)- Founded: 2002. A non-profit dedicated to bringing together organizations throughout the United States that promote gender equality in the STEM fields, as well as introduce and encourage girls to pursue science as a career.
Organization for Women in Science in the Developing World (OWSD)- Founded: 1987. The OWSD was the first international forum to provide research, training, and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world.
Million Women Mentors (MWM)- Founded: 2014. MWM encourages mentors (both male and female) to increase interest and confidence of women in STEM careers and programs.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)- Founded- 1881. One of the oldest organizations of its kind, the AAUW seeks to advance the equality of women in academia and STEM fields by promoting education and equality.
Women@NASA: Founded- 2009. Created in response to the White House Council on Women and Girls, Women@NASA is an online collection of videos, photos, and histories of women across the agency, past ans present.
Girls Who Code: Founded- 2012. Girls Who Code aims to close the gender gap in technology fields by capturing the interest and attention of elementary and young adult girls with the creation of online and after school programs.
FabFems: Created by the NGCP, FabFems is an online community and database of women in STEM, that's available directly to female STEM programs and other organizations aiming to increase career awareness in those fields.
In 2015, the White House recorded the oral histories of various women in the STEM fields. Using White House staffers, the series covers scientists and mathematicians from Ada Lovelace to Grace Hopper. You can visit the website here, or go directly to the Soundcloud album below!
Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA): The SIA's blog has weekly and monthly posts on the amazing women in world history. The Women in Science series and the Wonderful Women Wednesday series highlight a woman or several women each week.
Lady Science: A collaborative writing project focusing on women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. Issues can be read online or be received by mail.
San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC): The SDSC created a digital exhibit to showcase the contributions of 16 women scientists from across the globe.
Eastern Illinois University's Women in Science & Mathematics (WiSM): Founded in 2007, WiSM began as a resource for women interested in STEM. Now, it hosts and promotes events and panels on EIU's campus every semester.
The Human Computer Project: A non-profit organization started by Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, The Human Computer Project is dedicated to documenting the achievements and history of women and minorities in STEM fields.