For the rest of this week we’ll be posting our last few Q&As with Featured Contributors, and today I bring you Dajae Moe Williams, a Quality Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Dajae will be speaking alongside Featured Contributor Trudy Kortes in a panel about women pursuing STEM careers on Sunday at 10 a.m., so be sure to check it out in the Guidebook app! And don’t forget your passes!
But for now, let’s get to know Dajae!
Tell us a little about your story. Where are you from? Where are you based out of now?
St. Louis, Missouri. I now live in Los Angeles, California.
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy song writing, music production, basketball, and entrepreneurship.
Who did you look up to growing up? How about now?
When I was younger, I looked up Will Smith, Queen Latifa, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Now I look up to Nipsey Hussle and Steve Jobs.
Science geeks, this one’s for you!
From astronomy to robotics, GeekGirlCon’19 will be packed with great discussions
by some of the leading minds in STEM. Want a sneak peek of what we have in
store? Check it out:
Let’s face it. Embracing technology and being a geek is not something women are “supposed to do”, right?
But, if we believed everything the world told us then maybe we would not know the Earth rotated around the sun (and not vice versa) or that it is not in fact flat. So, it is clear we have to buck the trends to make big things happen. Even today.
That is why I believe that drones are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to encouraging women to get into tech.
How exactly are drones making this happen? Here are three ways I can see drones helping…
We’re here! Well, not quite, but with just a few days left until #GGC17, I’m in full-on excited freakout mode, and I hope you are too. We’ve got our schedules, our apps, and we’re ready to have an amazing Con weekend.
If only we could be this calm and collected going into the Con
Over the past few weeks we’ve been giving you a preview of the amazing panels we have coming up, divided into all the themes we geeks are most passionate about. We’ve covered Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusivity, GGC After Dark, Pop Culture, Fandom, and Gaming. But as if all of that wasn’t enough to get you completely psyched for this weekend, let me introduce you to a group of panels that I am personally counting down the hours for: the STEM panels!
The original computers
Did you know that the first computers weren’t wires or blinking lights, but women? From the first computer program to sending men to the moon, women were technological leaders. So why is it so hard to find safe work environments and equal salaries for women in technology? Moderated by Asia al-Massari, the panel From Note G to NASA: Women in Coding and Programming invites you to join self-described lady-coders, Amanda End, Allison Borngesser, and Amy Wibowo, to discover what being a coder is all about!
Bugs are awesome, especially this adorable and efficient ladybug
Whether you’re squeamish around creepy crawlies or a full-on bug fanatic, the panel Different Isn’t Bad: What Bugs Can Teach Us About Being Brave will open your eyes to all the unexpected and amazing things that bugs can teach us. Meet The Bug Chicks, Kristie Riddick and Jessica Honaker, entomologists using bugs to talk about social issues like prejudice, racism, sexism, and feelings of isolation, while simultaneously teaching about insects, spiders, and their relatives. They make videos and talk with young people all over the world, inspiring bravery and open-mindedness. You’re sure to find your inner bugdork here!
Footage of me on my way to the Droid-building panel
Last but certainly not least, the panel Droid Building 101: Make Your Own Astromech!, moderated by Christine Cato, will discuss the methods used by members of the BB-8 Builders Club and Astromech builders club to create their own BB-8 and Astromech droids. The panel will include a brief history of the two clubs, the materials they used to make their droids, and a peek into how to make your own!
I, for one, am extremely ready to learn more about all things coders, bugs, and droids. I hope to see you at these incredible panels, as well as all the others we have scheduled this weekend!
Written by Guest Contributor Regina Barber DeGraaff
With all the excitement surrounding the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, I wanted to discuss the ideas of diversity that the book explores and how the ideas of what is “different” and “normal” has affected my life as an academic in science.
Not long ago, I was an PhD astrophysicist who had never read A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle’s book was beloved by many of my academic colleagues due to the physics references; however, literature that everyone else read in childhood was always a touchy subject for me. I remember being a sophomore in college when several fellow physics majors said to me “You haven’t read The Lord of the Rings? You haven’t even read The Hobbit?!” That summer I spent the entire break reading the Tolkien series in the Shire-esque landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Being a female, Mexican/Chinese American, first-generation college student in physics, I was already wary about my appearance and “class,” so I did anything to belong.
I did not grow up in a house with books for children or adults. My mother was always nervous about her English due to growing up in Taiwan and never wanted to read English books. When I would visit my father during the summer, he tried to encourage my sister and I to read, but he was self conscious about his own reading skills. I remember the crippling dread when teachers would ask me to read out loud. This is probably one of the many reasons I moved towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The March in Progress. Image: Regina Barber DeGraaff
The March for Science took place on Earth Day in late April this year. While the main March took place in Washington D.C., there were over 600 satellite marches that took place to support the importance of science is to our health, economies, food security, and safety. One such event took place in Bellingham, WA. I spoke to one of the organizers, Regina Barber DeGraaff, about her involvement in the March for Science in Bellingham, and the importance of science policy and communication.
Hi Regina! Tell me about yourself.
I teach Physics and Astronomy at Western Washington University (WWU). I am also the STEM Inclusion and Outreach Specialist which is a position I created a couple of years ago. The College of Science and Engineering Dean at the time was very supportive of equity and inclusion so she agreed to create my half time position.
I grew up in Lynden, WA which is just south of the Canadian border in the top right tip of Washington State. I spent my summers in San Diego, CA and attended WWU as an undergrad. After completing a MS in Physics at San Diego State University, I finished my PhD in Physics at Washington State University in 2011 with a focus on Globular Clusters using Hubble Space Telescope images. I have taught at a high school & two community colleges. Being a women of color in STEM, my experience as a community college student in running start and teaching at various institutions is the source of my unique perspective when it comes to inclusion in STEM.
I am also very passionate about science communication. I host and produce Spark Science which is on its 3rd Season. The goal of the show is to make science accessible by confronting the scientist stereotype.
My first panel of GGC ‘16 was with the super smart young women of Holy Names high school’s FIRST Robotics team.
What is FIRST Robotics? FIRST Robotics is a mentor-based program for youth engagement in science and technology. They offer programs for all age groups with a focus on STEM concepts.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is a high school-only where teams of students develop, build, and program their own robot. Students must follow strict rules, are given limited resources, and have only six weeks to complete their project.
Once completed, teams compete in a difficult field game where their industrial-sized robots are put to the test.
Oftentimes when we think of geeky topics, things like video games and comics come to mind. However, one of the panels set up at GeekGirlCon ’15 by GeekGirlConnections featured a mixture of women from various Washington state scholarship, seeking to answer the question, “What does it take, as a woman, to have a career in STEM?”
The panel consisted of six women working in various areas of science and technology. Erika Harnett has a Ph.D. in physics, and works in computer simulations. Erika Wagner wrote a Ph.D. how to keep humans healthy on the way to Mars, but she also added that “but now I sell rockets”. Beth Linz is a graduate of Central Washington University with a background in computer science, and now works as software engineer. Jamie Waldock holds a MA in aerospace engineering, and is a test engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne (working on propulsion). Irina Menn is the founder and CEO of Hopela, a mobile app to connect local orgs and millennials for donation; she holds degrees in science and computer science. Finally, Christine Washburn is a professor of physics from Everett Community College.