How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

AI has entered the scene, and it’s threatening to take so many jobs from people. Science must not rely too heavily on AI or we will all perish. We need creative scientific minds to get us out of the climate disaster we are in and to help us find a way back to ecological and humanitarian balance.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

I believe every child, including children from low-income communities, must be supported equally, regardless of gender. We need to inspire young women to love science, not just teach them science. Organizations like DIY Girls in the San Fernando Valley not only teach, they create project-based learning. They introduce students to mentors. They show them what is possible in STEM and then guide them into those pipelines. Learn, reflect, apply and do it all over again.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

I envision many more women involved in STEM related to clean energy, and climate solutions. Because women’s ability to negotiate across different sectors and understand the survival of the planet is key to the survival of children in future generations, they will be leading in every way – research, private sector, government sector, entrepreneurship, inventors, innovators, policy leaders etc.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career. What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2023?

As a young woman in a traditional men’s field, I was harassed, ridiculed and underestimated, probably also for being a Mexican-American/Latina. However, I thrived with the support of other women and even some men who saw this young woman being harassed. I decided to leave aerospace for UCLA. There, I had women mentors and supervisors that showed me my career did not have to be surrounded by hostility. I stayed in the environmental health sciences field but then migrated into policy where I realized I could make the biggest change for my communities with the benefit of a STEM background. We need more scientists in policy and politics.