Science with style

Zizwe Alette

Image caption: Zizwe Alette

Shawna Stepp-Jones, Engr '10 (MS), wants to change the way girls think about science. Her nonprofit, Divaneering—"diva" plus "engineering"— encourages girls to pursue education and careers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) through fashion- and beauty-themed activities. As Miss Maryland Plus America 2013 and a patent examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Stepp-Jones is perfect for the job. "When girls traditionally think of women in science, they think of 'geeky' and 'quirky,'" she says. "So I wanted to put a spin on that image and say, 'No. We are fabulous. We are divas. We are Divaneers.'" Since winning the crown, Stepp-Jones has started writing a series of books about the Divaneers, girls who use STEM skills to solve real-world problems, and has conducted workshops with area students on such topics as making lipstick out of melted crayons and creating earrings with LED lights. After her workshops, some students change their minds about their future careers: One young girl switched her goal from professional ice skater to Divaneer.

Posted in Politics+Society