You may not have heard of these 5 women. Which is why this Lego set needs to exist.

Maia Weinstock knows a thing or two about women in science.

She's a science writer, researcher, and a deputy editor at MIT News, who fell in love with biology and astronomy at an early age. "I've always been interested in understanding how our world and universe works," Weinstock said.

She also has a self-described "mission" to inspire young girls to pursue science careers.


While the job market in science, technology, education, and math (STEM) is the fastest growing in the U.S., there's still a pretty big gender problem: Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM careers, making up only about 14% of engineers nationwide according to some estimates.

To help tackle the STEM gender gap, Weinstock decided to start in the toy aisle.

Why? Because according to her (and many other advocates for women in STEM), girls are often steered away from science careers at a very early age.

"Girls are discouraged along the way through a series of barriers," said Weinstock. "This starts from the day they're born, or even before they're born — parents set expectations for how they treat boys differently from girls."

Weinstock designed a set of Lego minifigures made to resemble five of NASA's most influential women.

Image via Maia Weinstock.

The design, submitted to Lego's "Ideas" page, needs 10,000 supporters to be reviewed by Lego designers. Currently, the "Women of Nasa" project has received support from over 5,000 people and has gotten shoutouts from NASA and the UN too.

The five women Weinstock chose are not all famous astronauts. They're a careful mix of recognizable faces and unsung heroes.

There's Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. And Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space.


Photo via Maia Weinstock.

There's also Margaret Hamilton, the computer-scientist who developed the in-flight software used for the Apollo moon missions.

Image via Maia Weinstock/NASA.

Then there's Nancy Roman. Known to many as the "Mother of Hubble" for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope, she was also one of NASA's first female executives, as well as a public advocate for women in science.

Image via Maia Weinstock/NASA.

And finally, Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated the trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo missions, including the one that landed human beings on the moon for the first time.

Image via Maia Weinstock/NASA.

Weinstock hopes that seeing successful women depicted as iconic Lego figurines will inspire girls and boys alike.

"We need to value women in positions of power as role models," said Weinstock. "Giving girls toys that show them what they can be is one way to do that. But it's also extremely important for boys to see females in these roles when they go to toy stores, so that it's expected that men and women can and should be a part of the same fields."

Image via Maia Weinstock.

Plus, according to Catherine Hill, a researcher at the American Association of University Women, kids start picking up on gendered stereotypes by the age of 3. Those stereotypes can include the idea that construction toys like Legos are "for boys" and can ultimately discourage a girl from her initial interest in science and engineering.

"My LEGO proposal certainly isn't going to completely change the equation," said Weinstock. "But I do think it would help at the earliest, most impressionable stages.

For Weinstock, diversifying STEM is about inspiring kids as early as possible by paying tribute to the achievements of those who came before.

If the project is picked up, millions of kids could get the chance to learn about and be inspired by the women who've been at the center of our space program for decades.

Maybe it seems like a small step, but as NASA itself has shown us, one small step can change the world.

More


Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared