Science Envy is a place where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is celebrated, because STEM is the coolest thing ever! It is also a place where scientists and engineers are portrayed as the super heroes they are.
Because STEM is the coolest thing ever!
ScienceEnvy.com is created by Eva Hakansson – PhD in mechanical engineering and officially the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider (270 mph = 434 km/h). She built her record-breaking electric motorcycle as a hobby in her garage while pursuing her PhD. You can read more about Eva below.
If you turn on the TV or open just about any glossy magazine from the grocery store, you will be fed with Hollywood stars and advice how to be beautiful and skinny (if you are a woman or girl), and how to be muscular and sexy (if you are a man or boy). Although it is completely OK to be a Hollywood star or beautiful or skinny or sexy – or all of the above – it is certainly not the only goal worth pursuing.
While girls and boys (and women and men!) may struggle with both self esteem and career choices, being a female myself my heart is for obvious reasons aching a bit more for girls. While ScienceEnvy.com is to no extent exclusively for girls (and women), the photo below made me realize that girls need role models that do typically “male” things, while boys have many role models already. The goal for ScienceEnvy.com is therefore to be inclusive for anybody independent of gender or age, but still make sure that women in STEM are portrayed as the super heroines they are.
The facebook picture below went viral in September 2016. I am not sure if I should feel the most sad for the girls reading “Girls’ Life” or for the boys reading “Boys’ life”. Apparently all girls have to be pretty, and all boys have to be macho. What about girls that want to be astronauts, or boys that want to have pretty hair? It is easy to see how constant daily exposure to marketing becomes such the norm that no one even notices when the content starts to define who and what we’re supposed to be. It is also easy to see that it would be very hard to break that norm. By squeezing us into molds, we are missing out on a lot of talent.
Luckily, more and more people are starting to realize how crazy this is. Kathrine Young is one of these sensible people, and she created an alternative cover for Girls’ Life that also went viral. That cover is actually what inspired me to write this text.
So why does this matter? What’s wrong with girls and women that like beauty and fashion? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. What’s wrong it that we push it down their throats that you have to be pretty and that you have to like beauty and fashion, and that we don’t show any alternatives. Because you can’t be what you can’t see! People want to be Hollywood stars because they see them on TV. People buy stuff they see in commercials on TV (it that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be billions of dollars (and pounds and yen and euros) spent on TV commercials). If you can’t see women in STEM, girls won’t think that STEM is for them. It is that simple. But we shouldn’t forget the boys, so on ScienceEnvy.com you will find stuff that is inclusive for everybody, not exclusive for certain genders or age groups. If you have suggestions how to improve the website and the material, don’t hesitate to contact me.
“You can’t be what you can’t see!”
About Eva Håkansson
I am a combination of speed junkie and tree-hugger, and I love everything science and engineering. I received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Denver, Colorado, USA in 2016. My mission in life is to show that eco-friendly can be fast and fun, and that women are excellent engineers. I call my 270 mph (434 km/h) battery-powered motorcycle “eco-activism in disguise”.
I built the KillaJoule as a hobby project together with my husband Bill Dube’ while I was pursuing my PhD. While it is definitely a team effort, about 80 % of the blood, sweat, tears, and hours in the KillaJoule are mine. You know, you need a solid hobby project when you have so much time and money to spare (that was a joke, of course, you have no time and no money when you are in graduate school… Luckily I have a very supportive husband with a real salary, and many industry partners providing components and support.) The KillaJoule is the world’s fastest electric motorcycle, and it has also made me officially the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider.
My driving force is the pure joy of building things that have never been built before. Engineering is my creative outlet. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing you vision materialize through work done with your own hands. I loved arts and crafts as a kid, and engineering is just arts and crafts for grown-ups.
My driving force is the pure joy of building things that have never been built before. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing you vision materialize through work done with your own hands.
In addition to a bunch of college degrees (four to be exact), I have set 15 world speed records, set a Guinness world record, authored a book, presented at TEDxDU, and worked a variety of jobs, to mention a few of the things I have done. You can read the full story here if you are curious. But most of all I love designing and building things. Nothing beats that. Nothing.
Engineering is just arts and crafts for grown-ups.