It's important for girls to further their goals in STEM now more than ever because we need more female innovators, leaders and audacious dreamers. In the past, there may have been the stereotype that girls had to choose between being “smart or pretty," but that's fortunately not the case anymore. If anything, that negative stereotype has been replaced with the notion that women are more educated and more capable than ever before!
I recently attended a TEDxWomen event in Washington, D.C. where Brittany Wenger, a high school senior, spoke about the work she is doing to diagnose breast cancer in a less painful and more accurate way. She began studying neural networks when she was in the seventh grade and had just taken home the prestigious grand prize at the 2012 Google Science Fair for her project, "Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer." She used the technology from iCloud syncing capabilities and other science-based methods for detecting cancer. Her blending of technologies is helping her achieve an over 99% accuracy when diagnosing a potentially life-threatening disease in the early stages, which can save lives.
There I was sitting at this conference, listening to this beautiful teenager lecturing to a huge crowd of people two and three times her age. I was in complete awe of her courage and ability to articulate her research. That's when it dawned on me that Brittany is the perfect example of what it means to be a "modern girl" and she is exactly the kind of role model we should be presenting to the world.
I also realized that we desperately need for the Brittanys of the world to be seen and heard, highlighting their innovation, intelligence and passion for making a difference. We also need them to inspire more girls to take that same leap of faith. Despite the reality that there are a lot of challenges facing our world today, Brittany gives hope that young women can truly have a positive impact. Whether it's cancer research or information synching and sharing through technological advances, we need girls to continue on the solution-based track. From improving our bridges to building safer homes and solving new mathematical problems in an effort to lower the crime rate, it has never been more important for our country and the future of our world that girls pursue their dreams in STEM.
Brittany left me inspired. What she doesn't realize is she also left me hopeful that this upcoming generation can and will be the solution to our world's greatest problems. We need more girls creating powerful and intrepid goals in the world of STEM because we have other people to inspire and a world to change.
Image courtesy of Leadersinheels.com