Lyne Starling Trimble Public Lecture - Campaigning for More Marie Curies

Live Webcast
Kathy Olesko

Campaigning for More Marie Curies: The Movement to Expand Young Women's STEM Participation, 1950-2021

Presented by Amy Bix, Iowa State University

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Talk: 3:00 p.m. EDT



One of the most distinctive developments in modern science and engineering has been the emergence of "the girls' STEM movement," high-visibility campaigns to expand diversity in historically-masculine fields. A few decades ago, mainstream observers ridiculed or dismissed any idea of women handling the toughest technical subjects. But over seven decades, individual scientists, engineers, and major STEM organizations devoted increasing effort to expand programs for young women, working alongside colleges, K-12 schools, advocacy groups, and major corporations. This revolutionary mindset permanently reshaped our modern cultures of science, engineering, education, and child-rearing. Today, a flood of targeted programs, science camps, books, toys, television shows, and websites all encourage girls to pursue STEM.  Despite the scope and significance of this revolution in both professional and popular ideas about who can and should enter STEM, we have no systematic exploration yet of how this dramatic shift happened. The story is complex, both reflecting and driving changes in gender relations, plus escalating concern for girls’ psychological well-being and personal opportunities. Diversity discussions both reflected and promoted new interpretations about the fundamental nature and purpose of science and engineering.


Amy Sue Bix is Professor of History at Iowa State University and director of ISU’s Consortium for Historical Studies of Technology and Science. Her 2013 book ‘Girls Coming to Tech!’: A History of American Engineering Education for Women (MIT Press) has won three major awards, including the 2015 Margaret Rossiter Prize from the History of Science Society.  Bix has written widely on many topics in the history of science, technology, and medicine, including her book Inventing Ourselves Out of Jobs?: America's Debate over Technological Unemployment, 1929-1981.  Her book in progress is Recruiting Engineer Jane and Astrophysicist Amy: American STEM Advocacy for Girls, 1965-2015.

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