Women in STEM, Science Illustration Focus
We’re honoring Women’s History this March, by recognizing women in STEM. We’re starting with a look at SayoStudio’s science start, and then focusing on encouraging women in science. Finally, we are featuring science illustrations created for a few of the incredible women scientists that SayoStudio has worked with. (Prefer to jump directly to the women in STEM gallery?)
SayoStudio’s Science Start
As SayoStudio’s Creative Director, I have to admit to a small identity crisis. People ask: are you an artist or a scientist? Nearly 20 years into my science illustration career, I slightly dodge the question. My answer is that I am enthusiastically a science communicator. I get to work with amazing scientists, translating their discoveries and ideas into visuals that people can connect with.
Initially, I did start out as a scientist-in-training, working as a research assistant in a parasitology lab. I was swept away with the hope of learning insights into—and hopefully cures for—tropical diseases like Leishmaniasis and malaria. I studied the molecular pathways of nucleotide transfer by diligently working on western blots and ELISAs (experiments looking for the presence of specific proteins in different cell organelles).
In my early lab work I discovered… that it’s a slog. I don’t mean that negatively, but my romantic notion of finding cures doesn’t happen quickly. It happens over decades, not years, and it takes a huge level of commitment. After working in the lab I realized that I could contribute in a different way, by highlighting the research of those who have the fortitude, perseverance, and love for bench work.
Shift to Communicate Science
I have SO much respect and admiration for my peers who have continued on their scientific quest. On the other hand, I’m proud to now translate, communicate, and advocate for science alongside my fellow science communicators.
Our team now has a molecular-biologist turned designer, a slime-mold expert who hones our marketing, and to round us all out, a non-scientist Programs Director who has worked alongside us
nerds scientists and science-types for over 15 years in the National Science Foundation’s public affairs office before arriving here. All of us at SayoStudio are so grateful that we are in a position to honor and celebrate women scientists.
Celebrating and Encouraging Women in Science
SayoStudio’s core mission is to further science with visuals, and much of that means furthering women’s voices in science. Whenever we create science illustrations and animation, we’re working to communicate information—but just as importantly—some might argue more—is encouraging excitement for science. And although our work is often geared toward other adults, we also hope to nurture that spark of wonder in our future scientists.
Why does it matter? Despite equal math scores with their male classmates, middle school and high school girls don’t pursue engineering, math and science at the same rate. In fact, despite accounting for 52% of the college-educated workforce, only 29% of the STEM workforce is female (NSF’s labor and workforce statistics). Drill down into the numbers to minority and disadvantaged groups, and it gets even worse. Edutopia’s excellent article collates many references on the subject that delve into some of the potential causes and solutions.
Here at SayoStudio we’re growing our science communication team with kick-a** women who are passionate about visualizing science. We’re excited to bring more attention to stunning discoveries, and along the way encourage more girls to join the future ranks of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.
Amazing Science Showcased in Illustrations
Finally, the part you’ve all been waiting for… inspiring science from women in STEM! Please enjoy the following gallery showcasing just a few of the women researchers whose work we’ve visualized. You can learn more about Dr. Ghez’s black hole research, and Dr. Angela Brown’s research into new antibiotics.
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