#Girlswithtoys shows STEM isn’t a boy’s game

18 May 2015

Woman working with electronic circuits, via Shutterstock

Following an article on NPR with an astronomer who described the field as just “boys with toys”, thousands of women across science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) turned to Twitter to show otherwise.

The article in question was a discussion with Shrinivas Kulkarnian, an astronomy and planetary science professor at the California Institute of Technology who, when speaking with the NPR journalist, had suggested that it was rather fun to work in, but made the un-wise decision to label it as purely a male pursuit.

“We astronomers are supposed to say, ‘We wonder about the stars and we really want to think about it’,” said Kulkarnian in the piece. “Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call ‘boys with toys’. I really like playing around with telescopes. It’s just not fashionable to admit it.”

Well, safe to say, Twitter wasn’t happy with this suggestion and instead turned the micro-blogging site into a showcase of some of the world’s leading female STEM leaders and the type of toys they work with on a day-to-day basis in their fields with the hashtag ‘Girlswithtoys’.

Here are some of the best examples the web had to offer.

Woman working with electronic circuits image, via Shutterstock

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic