Discovery Place celebrates International Women's Day

Discovery Place

Robyn Solar Eclipse

Happy International Women's Day! This global day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

According to the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey, women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce but just 24% of workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Across Discovery Place museums, 64% of our staff is female.

So we asked some of these outstanding women: What inspired your interest in STEM?

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Catalina Stegmann, Lab Coordinator
Bachelor's degree in biochemistry (Boston College)

"It was my love for teaching science that inspired me the most. I love those 'aha!' moments – not so much telling kids what to do but guiding them to figure it out for themselves.”

Robyn Levitan, Manager, Collections
Master's degree in experimental archaeology (University of Exeter)

“The first excavation I ever went on, I pulled a skull out of the ground in Peru that hadn’t been touched in 1,200 years. That was really empowering and I was only one of two women out of 12 archaeologists.”

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Juliann Chavez, Director, Discovery Place Science Labs
Bachelor's degree in zoology (Ohio State University) and master's degree in biology (Miami University)

“What inspired me was a Girl Scout overnight trip. I went to one at the zoo, I was in second grade and I loved the whole thing. Afterward I told my mom that was what I wanted to do. Then all through college I worked at the Columbus Zoo and I ran overnight events for Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and all kinds of clubs. After that I got a degree in Zoology from Ohio State University.”

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Charla Fields, Senior Director, Community Engagement & Impact
Bachelor’s degree in molecular cell biology (Dominican University of California)

“STEM allowed me to dive deeper into the understanding of life. I like cause and effect. I like if/then. That’s how life works – if you eat this, then this will happen. I like numbers, systems and processes, and the cool thing about science is that as you embark on these processes, there is no shame in failure. In other lines of work, if you don’t follow protocol you might get a slap on the wrist, but in science, if you are experimenting and diverting, you could discover the next great thing.”

Rachael Marks, Lab Educator
Bachelor’s degree in wilderness leadership and experiential education (Brevard College)

“Over time, my love for playing outside and interest in the natural world morphed into a passion for science and environmental education.”

Sarah Macey, Assistant Vice President, Design & Exhibitions
Bachelor’s degree in industrial design (Rochester Institute of Technology)

“I struggled for a long time trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my career. When I was younger, I excelled in math and science so I was pushed toward computer sciences, but I wasn’t very interested in the work. I basically broke the career aptitude test receiving career suggestions like worm farmer, truck driver and secret agent. Eventually I was placed in remedial classes to figure out why I broke the test. The answer actually ended up coming in the mail by way of Carnegie Mellon, with an advertisement for a summer program in industrial design. I signed up for the program and was the only girl out of 30 students that summer. Most people who study industrial design go into careers focused in commercial product design, but I didn’t want to take that path. I ended up working for a local museum throughout college doing aquarium and exhibit design, like determining and testing environments for penguins, and it lead me to where I am now. For me it’s not about creating the shiny new design, I enjoy creating positive experiences and making things that have a positive impact on people.”

Stevie Galicia, Program Specialist, Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville
Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education & Political Science and History (College of Charleston) and master’s degree in Museum Education (George Washington University)

“I never intended to be in the STEM field. I had an internship working with kindergartners combining my background with history to STEM processes. We talked about trains. I enjoyed seeing how excited kids were to learn. With STEM, learning doesn’t always look like sitting in a classroom and reading a book. Their engagement and spark made me think I can do this if they could.”

Jessica Tullar, Manager, Discovery Place Kids-Rockingham
Bachelor’s degrees in Dance Education and Communication (State University of New York at Brockport) and master’s degree in Nonprofit Management (UNC Charlotte)

“I worked at a children’s museum in high school and through college. After I graduated I learned about Discovery Place. At first I didn’t feel qualified but my favorite part about STEM is that I’m never limited. I’m constantly breaking my own boundaries and preconceived notions. It’s a chance to do something new everyday, something I didn’t know I was capable of doing. By getting girls involved in STEM from an early age, you give them the opportunity to experience something they might not know that they love. Our theme here at the Museum is “I Can” and I hope that I can be a role model for girls that visit the Museum. I hope they see me singing and dancing on stage, reading stories, crafting in the Studio and then head over to teach a science demonstration and know that girls really CAN do it all.”

Madison Dunaway, Coordinator, Thinkers Space
Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a digital fabrication concentration (UNC Charlotte)

“I started out as vocal performance and sustainable science major but I switched because I was more interested in gaining understanding than skill and technique. Fine arts was a mode of expression that allowed me to explore that. It helped me open up ways of thinking that I had not previously thought about and it was extremely exploratory—that’s what you’re supposed to do, push the boundaries. I had never considered being an engineer or doing anything in math. Fine arts was accessible and allowed me to delve into technology. There's definitely a debate about whether its STEM or STEAM but I think it’s STEAM. Art is an important discipline to be considered alongside science, technology, engineering and math. My interest in STEAM is that I think that when our minds come together we’re able to produce innovative solutions. It’s considering problems with an interdisciplinary context. We’re able to dig deeper into problems that our communities and our whole world are facing and those connections ultimately serve humanity better.”

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