Women in STEM

By: Tracy Xu
STEM careers have been fields long dominated by males. Females are largely underrepresented in this industry. They hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs, even though they make up almost half of the total workforce in the United States.However, current women in the field are working hard to change these discouraging numbers by acting as female role models and inspiring young girls to join the industry.
One inspirational woman in a STEM field is neurobiologist Cori Bargmann, who is known for her studies on roundworms. In her studies, she manipulates certain genes in the worms and observes its effect on behavior. Since many of the gene mechanisms in these worms are similar to those of mammals, she is able to uncover the complex connections between brain function and behavior. To further the advancement of research on the human brain, Bargmann established the Brain Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative. The program is working on developing new technologies to examine how brain cells interact. This is all part of an effort to find the root causes of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
Another woman in STEM that is an inspiration to young girls is neuroscientist Katrin Amunts. She is the director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Jülich Research Center in Germany. She is currently leading a team of researchers on BigBrain, a project to create the most detailed 3D map of the human brain as part of the Human Brain Project. This will make it easier for researchers to analyze the telltale signs of neurological diseases and disorders and examine the way drugs interact with diseased brains, which will ultimately help lead to improved diagnoses and treatments.
Biomedical engineer Nina Tandon is also a source of inspiration. She is the CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, the first company in the world that grows bones for skeletal reconstruction. Tandon uses multipotent stem cells from a patient’s fat cells to grow the bones needed for reconstruction. Because the stem cells are the body’s own cells, it is less likely to get rejected by the patient as compared with synthetic bone. Each EpiBone graft is custom-made, so it will have an exact fit, which could shorten the time needed for surgery and recovery.  
These women in STEM fields are revolutionizing science and using their research to come up with innovative ways to improve the world. They also serve an important role in helping inspire young girls to pursue a career in STEM by proving that women can succeed in male-dominated fields.