By Natalie Panek – The underrepresentation of women in my field like Aerospace, and all other science, engineering, and tech fields is a well known issue. One of the biggest changes we can make to the portrayal of women is through the media.
Paving the way for future generations of female engineers and scientists could be as simple as ensuring that the majority of youth can identify a female scientist or engineer instead of a reality TV star. There is a direct relationship between what young women are exposed to on a daily basis, and what they believe they can be.
Visible role models provide a medium for revolutionizing how we think of women in technology.
I am a tireless advocate for trying to get more women in tech and engineering at the forefront of the media; primarily for more TV networks to feature more female hosts on their shows discussing intelligent topics. We need the next generation of women to perceive STEM fields as part of the norm and to shift media focus towards smart, inventive women. We should be using the media to celebrate science and celebrate women advancing innovative fields.
This is precisely why I LOVE the weekly Tech Tuesday column on Women You Should Know. It’s editorial content that is committed to profiling female STEM rock stars, everyday women and girls whose impact and achievements are great sources of relatable inspiration. I’m honored to have been featured by the site and am now equally proud to contribute to it.
Another organization that is dedicated to this mission is TechGirls Canada (TGC) through their Portraits of Strength campaign. TGC’s objective for this campaign is to “profile trailblazing Canadian women and girls creating cool technology, scientific breakthroughs and constructing our collective tomorrow. Portraits of Strength pays tribute to women in science, technology, math, and engineering whom are helping pave the way for future female leaders and serve as amazing role-models.”
TGC believes that “the definition of role-models needs to move beyond academic accolades and job titles to include what fulfills us as people, what drives our ambitions, what makes us passionate about what we choose to do every day”.
It is always easier for youth to see themselves in a role if they can personally relate to someone or visualize it. Seeing a successful woman in science or engineering is a direct contributor to giving young women confidence to pursue these careers. Visible role models provide a medium for revolutionizing how we think of women in technology.
I’m so thrilled to be featured as part of this important and empowering campaign.
About This Guest Contributor
At just 28 years old, Natalie Panek is a robotic operator and aerospace engineer at MDA Space Missions in Canada. Among countless other achievements, this accomplished Woman You Should Know drove a solar-powered car across North America, co-authored papers on flames burning in microgravity and repairing broken satellites in space, has a pilot’s license, and skydived with Korea’s first Astronaut (a woman). She’s also a spirited advocate for encouraging women to take risks and dive head-on into challenging careers. In addition, she founded The Panek Room, a digital destination of resources that promises “Revolution.Inspiration.Adventure.” from science, engineering, and technology.