by Devyn Rorem
Where my ladies at? While being recently sucked into a Youtube Vortex, clicking on one video after another to avoid doing my homework, I stumbled upon a video with the aforementioned title. The video, by Emily Graslie of Brainscoop, questioned why science education media was so male dominated. She offered a few reasons as to what could be causing this: women seem to be held to a higher standard than men, often feeling pressured to be “perfect”, or often facing intense criticism. Emily Graslie also described some of the sexist comments that she receives on her videos. Sometimes it is a comment about her physical appearance, rather than the content, or giving credit to the male staff on her channel. She offers these as simply a couple of examples of the sexism that discourages women from going into the field of science education.
But why does this matter? The way I see it, there are two components required to best further the progress of science. First, we need people to actually go out and conduct research. That is an incredibly important step as it is how we gain the knowledge in the first place. However, I think it is vital that we not forget the second component – once these scientists make these incredible discoveries, we need people to accurately relay this information to a lay audience. This is how we get the general population to see the real world value of the work being done. As Rosalind Franklin said, “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated”. An educated population leads to a more successful society.
In today’s connected world, it has become easier than ever for this information to be widespread. This move away from traditional media provides more opportunity for scientific discovery to be disseminated accurately and to a wider audience. While the work being done now by top science educators is awesome, the most popular channels are run by men. I find myself going back to my prior question: Where my ladies at?
Research tells us that the best way to encourage young girls to pursue STEM careers is by exposing them to women in diverse fields and by having female science educators. We have a great untapped resource of smart girls who could do incredible things in the world if they are given the right encouragement. Therefore, I have compiled a list of remarkable ladies who use media to teach the world about STEM. I tried to find channels that are more than just homework help; that presented material in a fun and engaging way. This is just a sampling of what I could find. If you know any other great female STEM educators (especially in chemistry), I would love if you could leave them in the comments below!
Biology (Animal Science) – Animal Wonders (Jessi Castaneda)
Animal Wonders is more than just a great channel to learn about your favourite critters. Founded in 2008 by Jessi Castaneda and her husband Augusto, Animal Wonders was first a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the wonders of wildlife with the public and finding permanent homes for displaced animals. Jessi features many of the 80+ creatures she cares for on this channel. Check out her Animal Wonders here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Anmlwndrs
Biology (General) – Amoeba Sisters
Created by two sisters from Texas, Sarina Peterson and Brianna Rapini’s Amoeba sisters demystifies science with humor and relevance by creating free videos, GIFS, handouts, and comics. Their characters Pinky and Petunia are seriously cute! Their content covers a variety of biology topics, from ecology to biochemistry. These ladies make science fun and memorable and you should definitely check out their site: http://www.amoebasisters.com/
Biology (Museum Science) – The Brain Scoop (Emily Graslie)
This list wouldn’t be complete without the lady who inspired this article! Emily is the first ever Chief Curiosity Correspondent for the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. For all of us who live outside of the windy city, this channel gives us a peek into some of the incredible things the museum has in their collection. Her new series on the channel, Natural News, covers new and exciting developments in the world of natural science. Check out her Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop
Botany – Brilliant Botany (Claire Hopkins)
This one is for all my plant lovers out there. Claire is a botanist with a passion for STEM outreach. Whether you want to learn about the predators of the plant world, or the werewolf gene in Arabidopsis thaliana plants; this is the channel for you. Links to Claire’s Youtube channel, blog, and learning resources can all be found on her website: http://www.brilliantbotany.com/
Engineering – Simone’s Robots (Simone Giertz)
As the so called “Queen of Shitty Robots”, Simone’s channel features hilarious tech videos of robots she has created to do random daily tasks. This channel is a great mix of humour and tech, showcasing the fun side of STEM. If you want to see her try and cut her hair with a drone or have a machine feed her breakfast, check out her channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3KEoMzNz8eYnwBC34RaKCQ
Mathematics – ViHart (Victoria Hart)
A self-described “recreation mathemusician, educator, and inventor; Vi Hart’s hand drawn videos cover a variety of topics in mathematics. A principal investigator at the Human Advancement Research Community and a published and co-author of several research papers, Vi’s videos explore topics like origami proof of the Pythagorean theorem and rants against Pi (which she thinks is overrated). She also works in the research group, eleVR, creating virtual reality videos. While Vi self-identifies as gender agnostic, I wanted to include her on this list of non-male educators. Check out Vi’s channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Vihart
Mathematics – Dr. Hannah Fry
Dr. Fry is a lecturer in Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, a published author, science presenter, and all round badass (according to her website). She has starred in TedTalks and created videos explaining the math behind topics from romance and love to riots and terrorism. Dr. Fry demonstrates how math can be applied to human behaviour and used to solve social problems. Check out her personal site here: http://www.hannahfry.co.uk/
Natural Science – Earth Unplugged (Maddie Moate)
This BBC worldwide channel makes incredible videos that delve into the amazing science of planet Earth. From how much water is in our oceans to alien scorpions, this is a great channel to check out if you want breathtaking, high quality coverage from all over the world. https://www.youtube.com/user/EarthUnpluggedTV/featured
Neuroscience/Psychology – Braincraft (Vanessa Hill)
Braincraft is a PBS online series about neuroscience, psychology, and why we act the way we do. Hosted by Vanessa Hill, this Youtube channel covers topics like why we feel lonely and the psychology of Game of Thrones. Vanessa covers all this material in a way that is both interesting and fun. I may be biased as a psych major, but this channel definitely deserves some more subscribers! https://www.youtube.com/user/braincraftvideo/featured
Physics – Physics Girl (Dianna Cowern)
Physics Girl was created by Dianna Cowern as a way to share her passion for physics while advocating for women in STEM. Her videos on her Youtube channel can teach you awesome science party tricks, explore if explosions work in space, and let you know if height really matters in sports. As her website says, Physics girl offers physics videos for every atom and eve. http://physicsgirl.org/
Physics (Basics)– Crashcourse Physics (Dr. Shini Somara)
Hosted by Dr. Somara, this Crashcourse series is a great first step in learning about the field of physics. Starting as simply as understanding motion in a straight line to more advanced topics like circuit analysis; Crashcourse Physics is a collaboration with PBS digital studios to introduce us to the world of physics. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtN0ge7yDk_UA0ldZJdhwkoV
Science (General) –Science vs. (Wendy Zuckerman)
The only podcast on this list, Science vs. takes on fads and popular beliefs to discover what science really says. Is organic food really better than regular? Is Forensic Science dependable? Should we be afraid of the Zika virus? Check out this podcast by Gimlet media to find out! https://gimletmedia.com/show/science-vs/
Sex Education – Sexplanations (Dr. Lindsey Doe)
On this Youtube channel, Dr. Lindsey Doe offers shame-free, comprehensive education for all the topics we were too embarrassed to ask before. Professional and entertaining, Dr. Doe covers topics from consent to Sex Toys 101. Her great enthusiasm for what she does and sex positive approach make this a channel everyone should check out to stay curious! https://www.youtube.com/user/sexplanations/featured
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