Exhibition to honour females in science


Who are the women in your community who make science, technology, engineering, or maths interesting and meaningful to you?

Is your friend always taking things apart to figure out how they work?

Does your adviser challenge you to push your research further?

Or was your neighbour’s advice on how to properly condition soil the only reason you’ve finally managed to grow veges in your backyard?

Otago Museum is developing a digital portrait exhibition called “100 women, 100 words. . .infinite possibilities”, which will feature women and girls of all ages who actively embrace science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) as part of their lives.

Otago Museum science engagement co›ordinator Jessa Barder said to prepare for the exhibition, the museum was seeking nominations for 100 women and girls from Otago and Southland “who actively live and work with STEM in all areas of their lives”.

Each person’s photograph will be displayed along with a caption of 100 words describing the role STEM has played in their life.

The portrait exhibition is part of an Unlocking Curious Minds›funded project called Full STE(a)M Ahead.

Otago Museum has partnered with the MacDiarmid Institute and Dodd›Walls Centre to deliver the project, which seeks to change young people’s perceptions of who a scientist is, what they do and how they do it.

Despite global efforts, a gender gap in STEM careers persists.

“There are still many ingrained stereotypes about the role of women in science, even in the 21st century, that can stifle potential,” Ms Barder said.

“This project, and the exhibition, are a gentle approach to opening up new ways of thinking.

“I hope people will see that female role models are role models for everyone, not only for other females.”

Nominations opened on May 1 and continue until May 30, and can be made at otagomuseum.nz/ infinitepossibilities.

The exhibition will open alongside workshops offered by GirlBoss New Zealand for school pupils in early December.

This will culminate with the Women in Science Expo, to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on February 11.

After this, the exhibition will go on tour through Southland and Central Otago.

“We want to build relationships between the amazing women we have in our community who have engaged with science in both traditional and non›traditional ways and those who are curious about how it might fit into their lives,” Ms Barder said.

“Science really is all around us, not just in schools and labs, and I want young people in our community to get to know these women, either through the exhibition or in person, and be inspired by all the options science unlocks for them.”