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“What everyone...shares in common is not gender or ethnic background, but motivation, perseverance, and desire – the desire to participate in a

voyage of discovery.” 

– Dr. Ellen Ochoa


"Voyage of Discovery:"



The Exhibit

The California Oil Museum is proud to present their newest exhibit: Voyage of Discovery: Women in STEM, which highlights women throughout history who were pioneers and played important roles in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Starting on February 29th, the Museum will celebrate the many women, past and present, whose contributions left a major impact on advancements in the STEM fields. Their stories will be highlighted throughout the walls of the Museum’s Iron Room, taking visitors on a journey of scientific triumph and the importance of women in STEM.

View our YouTube Women in STEM Playlist and join us every Wednesday on social media (@caoilmuseumas we share content for #WomeninSTEMWednesdays!

Join us for the return of our Speaker Series!

To be announced!




“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
― Rosalind Franklin (chemist)

What is STEM? Why is it important to highlight women in the lab?
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  In traditional or conventional schooling thoughts, these topics are taught as separate subjects. However, STEM programs focus on melding these subjects and teaching them as real-world problems or solutions. There are 7 standards of practice for educating STEM students that teachers use in their classrooms.

1) Learn and apply content

2) Integrate content

3) Interpret and communicate information

4) Engage in inquiry

5)Engage in logical reasoning

6)Collaborate as a team

7)Apply technology appropriately


Those with jobs in STEM fields conduct research, make new discoveries and create applications that benefit the world each and every day. STEM programs focus on the educational shortcomings in these area with the goal of increasing the supply of qualified high-tech workers. In his first State of the Union Address, President George Washington urged Congress "there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."

In more recent years, there was a national spotlight placed on STEM education to make sure the United States continues to be a global leader in this technological age. Former President Obama's administration invested millions of dollars to help produce an additional 1 million more STEM undergraduates by 2022.  Pursuing a STEM related degree is one of the smartest education paths students can take today. There are many benefits to be gained on this journey. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce those with a STEM degree earn an average of 26 percent more than their non-STEM competitors. 


Jobs in the STEM fields are usually more satisfying and fascinating plus they have the benefit of adding to society and the future. So, having an early interest in STEM or following a STEM pathway in high school or college can lead to many opportunities over a lifetime.

Why STEM is Important

for Girls and Women

We know now how important STEM education is for students but why is so much recent energy focused on STEM for girls and young women? In the United States, women make up only 25 percent of STEM workforce. And although 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees are earned by women, only 20 percent of those are in STEM related subjects such as engineering and physics. World-wide the numbers are even less, according to UNESCO data (2014 - 2016), only around 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education and less than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women.. Why are girls and young women not pursing STEM degrees and careers?  Gender Roles, stereotypes and bias, lack of encouragement and role models are some of the reasons that girls and women might not be choosing or sticking with STEM careers.  

Many girls are teased or mocked when showing interest in science or math. They may have been told that “girls don’t do well in math” or other outdated thoughts. Girls and boys tend to perform equally on math tests until high school grades when the boy’s rates tend to be a bit higher. However, girls have high levels of math anxiety and lower confidence in their testing skills which could lead to lower scores. So, a girl might believe that she can’t do well in those subjects, so she doesn’t try or continue to pursue her interest. Once women are enrolled in STEM degree programs or starting out in STEM careers, there is also a gender bias in the STEM fields themselves. Women researchers and scientists often get paid less then their male counterparts, are given less financing for projects, have less lab and office space or equipment, get fewer awards for their work and are given fewer resources, a study by MIT found.


Girls tend to need more positive reinforcement to succeed in STEM fields. They need positive role models, teachers, and family to encourage them to keep learning and working hard.  Role models in STEM are especially crucial for girls to see at a young age. NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has credited actress Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek for being her role model and encouraging her love of space and science. When girls see women mathematicians and engineers doing their jobs, they can picture themselves in those roles. Also seeing STEM women in TV, movies, and books is extremely important. A “2015 Gender Bias Without Borders” study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 percent were women. However recent movies such as Hidden Figures, Thor, Gravity and TV shows like the Big Bang Theory show some excellent examples of women scientists. 


Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. We hope that the trend of encouraging and supporting women in STEM will continue for years to come and that the Museum's exhibit inspires those of all ages and genders.

Mary Jackson

Mathematician &

Aerospace Engineer

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Ruby Hirose

Biochemist & Bacteriologist

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Bertha Parker

American Archaeologist

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View the Women in STEM YouTube Channel!





“It is important to continue working toward creating the archetype of the

self-rescuing princess, empowering girls through depictions

of women in STEM.” ― S.Ragle

A Girl Looking at a Physics Model
Promoting Students to Pursue the Fields
of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
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Speaker Series Schedule of Events:
Thursday Nights:
Melissa Baffa - Biologist
"Exploring the Deep Sea Aboard the E/V Nautilus”
Dennise Heredia - Forensic Scientist
"Fingerprints and Their Role as an Effective Forensic Tool: Three Case Studies"



Also Join us for:
Mary Pat Weber - Geologist
"Chasing Color: Mining Bolder Opal in Queensland Australia."
Continental Brunch and Refreshments Provided
College Night for Women in STEM
STEM Career Day at the Museum
Join us every Wednesday on Social Media!
View our Women in STEM Spotlight Series, featuring women of science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics!
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