In celebration of International Day of the Girl (October 11) and Ada Lovelace Day (October 14), Leading Women is devoting the month of October to women and girls in STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. We ran an iReport assignment which resulted in some amazing images of Girls in STEM from our readers.
This picture of teenager Zoe at the National Flight Academy was submitted by her grandmother Janie Lambert who described her as "anything but the norm." Courtesy Janie Lambert
Grandmother Janie Lambert, from Maryland, is proud of the fact that Zoe does not let anything -- including her Juvenile Diabetes -- hold her back from her dreams: "Always interested in science and technology [but] knowing she would never be allowed to be an astronaut with diabetes, she became interested in Aeronautic and Mechanical Engineering," says Lambert.
"At school she spends most of the day in technical and mechanical courses preparing her for starting college next fall. She is actively involved in the after school Robotics Team called RoboBees and she is the Team Captain for First Tech Challenge." Zoe is pictured here in 2010 at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee at 14 years old. Courtesy Janie Lambert
"Zoe breaks the norm for most senior girls in high school," added Lambert. "Instead of playing dolls as a child she preferred hanging out with the boys and building cardboard box spaceships." Zoe, who lost her father at nine years old, is pictured here at the National Flight Academy in August 2014. Courtesy Janie Lambert
Monique Wingard received a full scholarship of nearly $5000 to Startup Institute Chicago this month. Back when she was just nine, her mother Julia captured this moment at a school science fair. Monique says participating in the fair was a turning point: "[The fair] helped build confidence in myself, my ideas, creative approach to problem-solving, and speaking in front of small groups about a topic of importance to me."
"It was just really exciting to attempt to get other people just as pumped as I was about my work on 'Sound Investigating Pitch.' My love for music is what prompted me to choose this topic for the science fair. Just looking at this photo now makes me beam with pride. I was a nerd before it was even cool, and now I can make a pretty good living being one and teaching others to wear that title as a badge of honor." Courtesy Julia Wingard
When Heather's mother took this picture of her at a science fair in 1991, she had no idea that Heather would grow up to become a NASA intern and that they would write two science books together. "When I was in middle school, my science research teacher took me under his wing and encouraged my research ambitions," says Heather Reis Tomasello from Florida.
"This small investment of his time and encouragement multiplied exponentially, as I went on to internships at NASA and a large community hospital. I also competed at the international science fair, and paid for half of my college education with scholarships resulting from my science fair awards." Courtesy Joyce Good Henderson
"My mom always encouraged me to take the advanced math, to pursue the next biology or chemistry class," says Tomasello whose mother is a home health nurse. "For Christmas, she gave me a subscription to Discover Magazine and Science News. She became my role model, and now I try to duplicate that with my own daughter."
Tomasello's daughter Catie is pictured here, age six, with popular TV scientist Bill Nye. "As a kindergartner, Catie competed in the NSTA/Toshiba Exploravision competition and won 2nd place. She has since competed three additional years in this competition, winning 2nd place in the nation three times." Courtesy Heather Tomasello
Tomasello and her daughter Catie stand in front of her display at the 2014 Exploravision awards weekend. "Catie and her teammates have blown me away with their creativity and desire to use science and technology to help others, and to make the world a better place. Their projects have included an innovative medical device for people with allergies, clean energy for homes and communities, and environmentally friendly methods to desalinate water."
"A 'proud mom' moment came this summer when Catie explained her team's winning idea, the WateRenew, to a room of over 200 at the National Press Club, packed with corporate officials from Toshiba, including the CEO, educators, scientists, and members of the press. The scientist who created the Wave Wing prototype offered Catie and her teammates each a job upon college graduation with a degree in a science field. Catie is in sixth grade now, but she already has a job waiting for her!" Courtesy Jerel Tomasello
"Hello world, my name is Husseina Issaka and I am learning to code." Issaka lives in Nima, an urban slum in Accra, she comes from a poor background with a single mother who tries her best to take care of her children. In her community they face social problems such as acute poverty, widespread disease, and untimely death. Limited access to education means many are stuck in a cycle of poverty.
Issaka recently found out about Tech Needs Girls which helps teach girls like her to code.
"Now a days when you don't know Information Communication technology, you won't be employed for work," says Issaka. "As Kwegyir Aggrey said in his proverb if you educate a man you educate an individual and if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation. I am excited to be learning to code." Courtesy P.K. Opoku
"Females and especially female children have no access to contribute to community development, and it is perceived that the only place they can best perform is in their husband's house and in the kitchen," says Regina Agyare, founder of Soronoko Solutions, the company which started the Tech Needs Girls project.
"They are forced to marry at a tender age. Every female becomes a teacher to her newborn child. If they are denied educational opportunity what kind of people does our community expect to raise? An educated female will give her child first hand skills to allow her to become a responsible person in the community." Courtesy P.K. Opoku
11 year old Issaka is aware of what a life-changing opportunity Tech Needs Girls presents: "I am excited to be taught by mentors who are female role models and computer scientist or engineers. I am excited that I get to make money from the website and mobile applications I will build.
"With that money I can pay my own school fees to continue to get an education. I would also like to build an education mobile app to help other girls in different countries who may not have access to education learn from their mobile phones. Who knows I could one day build a huge software company and be the next Mark Zuckerberg." Courtesy P.K. Opoku
Girls in a primary school in Galway, Ireland learn from a member of the Cell EXPLORERS, a science education and outreach program based in the School of Natural Sciences in the National University of Ireland. From a pilot project involving 10 of Biochemistry lecturer Muriel Grenon's undergraduate students, the program has successfully grown to 100 volunteers reaching about 3000 members of the public.
"Our aim is to promote hands-on discovery of molecular and cellular biology by developing interactive outreach activities," says Grenon. "Such activities include school roadshows and science festival workshops. We aim to inspire and engage young people in biomedical sciences and provide role models of real people studying science." Courtesy Muriel Grenon