Women innovators across the United States have been selected as AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to share their stories and serve as high-profile role models for middle-school girls.
Information about the 125 women selected as AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors can be found at www.ifthenshecan.org/ambassadors.
IF/THEN®, a national initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, seeks to further women in science, technology, engineering and math by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers.
“We firmly believe that IF we support a woman in STEM, THEN she can change the world,” said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “The goal of IF/THEN® is to shift the way our country — and the world — think about women in STEM and this requires changing the narratives about women STEM professionals and improving their visibility.”
To achieve this goal, AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors will connect with students in person and through various media platforms, including popular YouTube channels and network television shows. The Ambassadors are contemporary role models who represent a diversity of STEM-related professions in the United States, from entertainment, fashion, sports, business and academia.
“AAAS is deeply committed to advancing education and opportunities for girls and women in STEM,” said Margaret Hamburg, chair of the AAAS Board of Directors. “This partnership enables us to reach more deeply into STEM education and help advance STEM careers for women and girls. It will help us to elevate the voices of women working in STEM fields and to inspire the next generation of girls and women in science.”
The Ambassadors Program addresses the critical need for more women STEM professionals and better portrayals of women scientists in media and popular culture. Recent findings by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media suggest that just 37% of STEM professionals portrayed in television and film are women. Having a fictional or non-fictional STEM role model increases the proportion of girls interested in getting a job in the sector by 20%, according to a 2018 Microsoft survey.
In response to these trends, Lyda Hill Philanthropies is collaborating with more than 30 organizations including AAAS, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Geographic, Teach for America, U.S. Soccer and the World Wildlife Fund, to form the IF/THEN® Coalition. Each member of the Coalition has committed to actively promote women in STEM with a purposeful effort to reach girls where they consume content most.
For example, Mission Unstoppable is a new half-hour series that features women on the cutting edge of science, including AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors. The show will premiere Sept. 28 on the CBS television network. Hosted and executive produced by Miranda Cosgrove (Nickelodeon’s iCarly) and Geena Davis, the series is produced by Litton Entertainment in association with Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
In October, AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors will participate in the IF/THEN® Summit in Dallas to take their outreach to the next level by learning from each other and receiving resources and coaching in science communication and effective STEM storytelling. The IF/THEN® Collection, a digital asset library of photos and custom content, will be created as a tool to increase the number of accurate and powerful images of real women and girls in STEM. The robust collection can be accessed by media, educators and nonprofit organizations as they develop and share inspiring content and curriculum.
AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors were selected through a rigorous selection process. Candidates were evaluated for overall excellence with a focus on the following: contributions to their STEM-related field, commensurate with their career stage; demonstrated experience and abilities in STEM communication and public engagement via media, classroom, and public programs; and commitment to inspiring middle-school girls to be the next generation of STEM pioneers.
The IF/THEN Girls Advisory Council, comprised of more than 150 10-18-year-old girls from around the country, also participated in the Ambassador selection process.