In recent years, a national conversation has emerged about gender stereotypes, visibility, and women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Women in the STEM community have been using social media, such as the #distractinglysexy and #ILookLikeAnEngineer Twitter campaigns, to visually counter stereotypes of women scientists using their own images and personal experience. Several books have expanded this conversation, for example Lab Girl by Hope Jahren and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Adding to the conversation are some revealing statistics: as of 2015, women represent more than 50% of the US workforce, but they are only 26% of the STEM workforce. Yet women earn more bachelor and doctoral STEM degrees than men.
The (Re)Imaging Women in STEM exhibition at the University of Virginia engages with this national conversation, and local UVA history, through a collection of visual and narrative portraits of women faculty at UVA who work in STEM departments. These portraits not only make these women and their work visible, they reveal how these women pioneers, often the first and sometimes still the only woman in their departments, have navigated, inhabited, and begun to transform the gender-segregated worlds of STEM and the academy at UVA.
The (Re)Imaging Women in STEM exhibition consists of this online exhibit and a gallery exhibit on the Grounds of UVA (March 2017 to May 2017). The exhibits feature two sets of portraits—one visual and the other narrative.
The Media Portraits comprise 28 photographs of women STEM faculty from UVA and feature a photographic portrait, a research sketch, and images and media from their research.
The strong, self-determined images of women STEM faculty in the media portraits section are juxtaposed with the experiences expressed in the Narrative Portraits. These portraits are based on oral histories conducted with sixteen different women STEM faculty at UVA. We share these histories without revealing the speakers’ names to protect these professors from discrimination and stigma for telling their stories. These histories represent women’s experiences working in these male-dominated fields.
Visit the About These Portraits section to connect these portraits and experiences to national conversations about women in STEM, gender stereotypes, and a history of women at UVA.
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Sponsored by the NSF ADVANCE AWARD #1209197.