McAllen, Texas (Valleycentral)- Women and their contributions in STEM are front and center in the International Museum of Art and Science’s (IMAS) newest exhibit.
“This is a STEMinist” is a virtual and onsite exhibit aiming to showcase women in a mostly male-dominated field. Partnering with McAllen Public Utility, the goal of the exhibit is to address the gender gap and representation of women in STEM. The exhibit was produced from a grant, aiming to promote gender equity, provided by the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC).
The concept came from a lack of representation in many of the museum’s materials and exhibits, said Claudia Martinez Gray, Director of Education at IMAS. Having representation is key in promoting the impact of women in STEM. And most importantly showing that the valley has many opportunities for women to have a career in the field.
“There is a larger gap of representation of Latinas in the STEM field, so we felt it was important to bring this out, we thought this was important specifically for the Valley,” said Martinez. The grant also provided the museum to launch ” RGV Women in STEM,” a web series focusing on RGV women in the field.
Being a virtual and onsite exhibit offers multiple ways to participate. In person, guests are able to try on outfits resembling a doctor, construction worker, and many more. They can also use a microscope to see various samples. Online, the exhibit allows guests to watch women in action and tell their stories.
An exhibit like this allows for accurate representation and the knowledge that you don’t have to leave the valley, said Jessica Salinas, Water Education and Communications Coordinator at McAllen Public Utility. A 3-year-old veteran in the industry, Salinas knows what it’s like to be underrepresented.
“In the water industry there’s not that many females and to actually see that there are other industries as well that are limited is really discouraging,” said Salinas.
Seeing the younger generations taking action and being more involved in encouraging for Salinas. Having an exhibit like this promotes the growing change in STEM and wider recognition for women in the field.
Both women hope that the exhibit will not be a short time item and continue to grow. At the end of the day it’s not only about representation but also building personal connections, said Martinez. “And showing anybody that’s interested in pursuing STEM that you can do it and that it is possible.”