Here, we celebrate women exploring new frontiers in STEM—often as unsung heroes. Learn about their journeys and the role models who encouraged them; discover how they’re smashing stereotypes and helping others follow in their footsteps; and find out why their diverse viewpoints are so important for inspiring innovation.
If you see it, you can be it
A chemistry professor from the University of Texas who loves explosions. An Xbox executive who believes gaming can unite us all. The head of Halo Gaming Studio who creates new worlds. They’re passionate. They’re successful. And they’re all women who came together on behalf of DigiGirlz, a Microsoft program that gives girls opportunities to learn about careers in STEM and participate in hands-on workshops. Together, they imagined new possibilities for their future and ignited the room with excitement—literally.
Blowing up STEM stereotypes—in high heels
A professor at the University of Texas, Dr. Kate Biberdorf (aka Kate the Chemist) is “breaking stereotypes and blowing stuff up”—all in the name of making science fun and accessible. As a scientist who’s “bubbly” and “loves high heels,” she’s passionate about helping girls be who they are while pursuing their dreams.
This passion has given her a platform—from breathing fire on The Colbert Show to demoing mind-blowing experiments for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls to delivering a TEDx talk—to help students discover their own love for STEM.
Imagining a world where gaming unites us all
Sarah Bond, Head of Global Gaming Partnerships and Business Development at Xbox, is changing the face of gaming. She’s making it more global, incorporating artificial intelligence, and advocating for diversity in tech—a passion that stems from her own journey. When Sarah walked into a computer science class in college, she realized she was the only woman of color—and she felt everyone staring at her like she didn’t belong.
That’s why Sarah was drawn to gaming and its power to bring people together: “Gaming is the only media form where two people who’ve never met, don’t speak the same language, and might have different abilities can actually have a shared experience.”
Creating bold new worlds
Bonnie Ross, the studio head of the Halo franchise, is one of the most powerful women in gaming. It all started with her passion for art, technology, and storytelling. Today, she creates new worlds and blockbuster games in the Halo universe with diverse characters that challenge norms and stereotypes.
She knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room, from studying computer science in college to growing through the ranks as a game developer at Microsoft, where she started a Women in Gaming community. She recently partnered with She Can STEM and was interviewed on 60 Minutes about closing the tech industry’s gender gap.
I really do believe if you can see it, you can be it. We need to have diversity in more management and leadership positions because diversity attracts diversity, which I think is incredibly important, especially in a creative space.Bonnie Ross, Studio head of the Halo franchise
Today, there’s a wealth of resources for students who want to start making a more inclusive world through STEM—and it doesn’t require working at a big tech company or having a national platform to get an idea off the ground. Continue on to learn more about two sisters who started a robotics movement in their high school.
Robots for everyone
As captain of her high school robotics team, Delaney Foster set out to create a robotics club that could include her sister Kendall, who has an intellectual disability.
In 2015, she came up with the idea for a robotics team based on the concept of unified sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete together. Today, with 50 teams across seven states, Unified Robotics has become a game-changer for students with special needs.
And Delaney, now a junior in college, is gearing up to pursue a career in developing assistive technologies that help people of all abilities realize their full potential. “It’s important that any team, company, classroom, or school that strives to be inclusive, remembers to include people with different abilities,” she says. “We can learn so much from each other.”
Role models in STEM can come from all backgrounds, ages, and eras—from Delaney Foster to Dr. Mae Jemison to Marie Curie. These women have all had to overcome adversity to pursue their passion and make meaningful contributions. Learn more about their stories of innovation and inspiration.