The individual that Harvard hails as “the next Einstein” is not only a woman, but a woman of color. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a Cuban-American who graduated from MIT with a 5.00 GPA, has been granted academic freedom at Harvard where she is currently pursuing a PhD, and who built and flew her own plane over Lake Michigan at the age of 14. As a Cuban-American myself, this excites me, but also makes me feel inadequate, for at the age of 14 the most impressive thing I could do is play maybe 5 chords on the guitar.
Needless to say, this is a huge accomplishment for women, Cubans, and people in general because this chick is sure as hell going places. Pasterski was included in Forbes’s 2015 30 Under 30: Science list, along with 14 other women. While there definitely is more women and more encouragement for women in STEM then there was several decades ago, there is still quite the gender gap. Women are still vastly the minority when it comes to computer science, engineering, and physics. Nonetheless, the rise of women in science deserves recognition and celebration.
According to the National Girls Collaborative project, girls are taking higher level math and science classes at similar rates as boys, and are receiving half of all biology degrees when they graduate from college. Women in science have been accomplishing phenomenal tasks lately. Sara Seager and her search for another Earth has brought about the discovery of more than 700 planets. Cori Bargmann’s research is helping to uncover the mysteries behind conditions like Alzheimer’s and autism. Elizabeth Holmes has become the youngest female self-made millionaire by developing Theranos, a company that uses a prick of blood to get the same amount of results one would usually get from a whole vial. And many, many more.
However, this is not the majority of scientific happenings and discoveries as of late, and it is nowhere near the mainstream. It is no secret that women have always been discouraged from pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Verizon Wireless highlights this phenomenon in this “Inspire Her Mind” PSA. And oftentimes when women are making excellent strides in science, their ideas are ignored, stolen, or forgotten. Take, for example, Rosalind Franklin, whose work led to the discovery of DNA. Or Margaret Hamilton, whose coding got man on the moon. Or Hedy Lamarr, better known for her acting and beauty, whose work with spread spectrum technology later led to the invention of wifi.
These few examples of women in science only prove how much we can accomplish when we strive for gender equality. Women make up around half the population, of course we are going to have a lot to offer. Every time we ignore or belittle the efforts of a girl trying to explore science and technology, who knows, we could be underestimating the next Einstein.
You can keep up with Pasterski’s past and current endeavors on her website.