Pop Quiz:
  • Name a female scientist
  • Name a female astronaut
  • Name a female mathematician
  • Name a female computer programmer
  • Name a female engineer
  • Name a female inventor
If you can't name any and are sitting there shaking your head, ask yourself why.

 

Yes She Can is a collection of spoken word poems and songs that were written to shine a light on many of the women whose names are too often left out of conversations and education about STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. 

  • Can She Kick It? Yes She Can is a piece for girls, ages 6-12 who want a rally song to get excited about STEM, and who are crushing expectations about "what's for boys" and "what's for girls" (hint: everything is for everyone).
  • STEM Occupy is a spoken word homage to a small collection of women who I've found incredibly inspiring for their work in STEM fields and gender equity.
  • SiStars is a song about the value and importance of women continuing to hold their own in STEM, even when the prevailing male-dominated culture makes it hard for us to get recognized.

I wrote these pieces after getting fed up by reading tons of recent articles about how, even in 2015, girls and women are still not being taken seriously in STEM fields. In case you haven't heard, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. And despite being accomplished in all of these fields since the beginning of time, women are still being mistaken for janitors and secretaries, and not being fully respected as equals. 

Then I kept hearing stories of little girls standing up to the sexism around them. Like 8 year-old Sophia Trow, who a salesperson dissuaded from buying the dinosaur shoes in the "boys" section. And 11-year-old Rowan Hansen who wrote to DC Comics to plead with them for more female superheroes, and to give Wonder Woman more sensible clothing than a bathing suit. Both girls' stories went viral, as well they should.

When I looked around to find examples of women — and especially women of color — who were accomplished in STEM fields, I thought it would be really hard to find the names/faces/examples/stories of women in these areas. But, to the contrary, it was actually really easy to find them. Which made me angry — because if their stories are this easy to findwhy aren't their stories and names more known to begin with? Why didn't my all of years of education ever highlight these womens' names? Their names and accomplishments need to be more visible, A) to respect them and their place in STEM history, and B) to give young girls the role models they can benefit from. 

There's a saying that says "You can't be what you can't see" — meaning, that if you can't see examples of people who look like you in certain roles, you're unlikely to follow that path and achieve in those careers. I don't totally agree with that statement, because I was able to become something that I had no visible role models of (a black female designer), but I DO know that it would have been a lot easier if I had examples of one (or more!) who I could look up to.

It's easier to be what you CAN see. Even just knowing that "someone like you" has walked a certain path before, makes it seem that much more accessible. Unfortunately history books and the media default to patriarchal heteronormativity, portraying straight white males as the achiever and accomplisher of everything — leaving women, people of color, and queer/trans folks out of the frame far too often.

This project, Yes She Can, is my attempt to tip the scales in the other direction.

"I'm here to turn on and shine a bright light
on the women reminding: we have every right,
to accomplish things in fields we're unseen,
and you will inspire a girl who's 13
to love her brilliance and shine just like you
and she will open up the door and step through..."

———

I'm Kat Vellos and I like to make things that make the world a better place. Sometimes my musical friends like Batsauce are persuasive enough to get me to step into the booth and record my voice, imperfect though it may be. Like when we made Musiplication to help kids learn their times tables. I hope you enjoy the tunes, and if you know a woman or girl who needs to hear about Yes She Can, please share it freely. I wrote and recorded these pieces with Batsauce in Spring 2015; he did the beats and mixing and I did all the writing and vocals.