In your junior high science classes, how many female scientific pioneers were in your textbook? I doubt more that there were more than a handful. In freshmen geometry class, did you learn about any famous female mathematicians? Probably not. I did not know about Sally Ride until I graduated from high school and even today, I could not tell you about any legendary female mathematicians. Pioneering women have been historically absent from all school subjects, not just science and mathematics, since the dawn of the schoolhouse.STEM

Even these days, when more women are going to college than men in this country, there is still a lack of women entering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career fields. The reasons for the interest gap are complicated, according to Christi Corbett, senior researcher for for the American Association of University of Women.

“The direction of scientific inquiry is influenced by the people doing the work,” Corbett told me over the phone. Women comprise of about only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in STEM-related fields. One can concur that women must then only make about 20% of the decisions in, say, scientific research.

Corbett helped compile Why So Few?—a comprehensive report that tries to solve why so few women are entering STEM fields.

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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” –Steve Jobs (1955–2011, rest in peace)

Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

If you, like me and millions of others were moved by the too-young death of Apple creator Steve Jobs this week, and in mourning happened upon the video of his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, you saw someone who exuded authenticity, a man who had clearly learned to trust his own inner voice…

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How did you recognize the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day March 8? If you haven’t yet signed the “Million for a Billion” petition to tell Congress you want them to fund international family planning and save the lives of so many women and children around the world, please do so here. This is one meaningful way to honor the women who founded IWD to promote equality for women, including the right to vote and hold public office. Another is to reach out to help another woman. Today’s guest post from Kathy Korman Frey, entrepreneur in residence at George Washington University School of Business and founder of The Hot Mommas Project tells just such a story. Read on, and keep reading for a roundup of some of the best of IWD posts:

A dignified, beautiful, African-American woman stood at the podium during the Wake Forest Women’s Weekend. All eyes were on Esther Silver-Parker, one of the most senior former executives at Wal-Mart and now president of the Silver-Parker Group. Would she talk about women’s advancement to the C-suite? Would she share her secrets to success? That, she did. And one of them was not at all what we expected.

Silver-Parker grew up in rural North Carolina, in a two-bedroom house, with her parents and many siblings. She recounted a screenplay-like story about a group of women she called: The Front Porch Ladies. “The Front Porch Ladies were the women who sat on their front porches as we came home from school,” Silver-Parker said. “They would treat our business like it was their business.”

When Silver-Parker was accepted to college, imagine her surprise when the Front Porch Ladies showed up on her front porch. There they all stood, having brought with them a full set of blue luggage for her to take off to school. “From time to time at college, I would get letters from the Front Porch Ladies,” Silver-Parker told the audience. “They would write words of encouragement, and sometimes include a dollar or two.”

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