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Cycling and Science

May 14, 2015

A number of years ago, I rode my bike from the northern tip of Idaho to the Pacific Ocean. I rode “fully loaded,” which meant I carried my tent, clothes, etc. on the back of the bike. (I did not try to bring all of my food – just water and snacks. I felt totally justified eating whatever I wanted at any establishment after being on the bike all day!)

 

Megan takes a break from her bike

 

What I did was a stroll around the block compared to what Elizabeth Case and Rachel Woods-Robinson are doing. These two women are not only riding across the country, they are hauling extra weight in the form of science lessons for classrooms along the way.  You can watch their inspiring story as covered by NBC News here: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/what-two-women-on-a-cross-country-bike-ride-want-girls-to-know-441747523795

 

 

Image: KTM Fahrrad GmbH, wikimedia commons

 

There are several aspects to this story that I find inspiring – and truthfully a little depressing. Elizabeth and Rachel are doing a tremendous service where there is a real need: boosting women and other under-represented groups in science, technology, engineering and math (aka, STEM). From this little video clip, they look like great ambassadors and I’m sure they will encourage and motivate many, many people. 

 

The downside to this story for me is that we still have a deficit of representation in the science pipeline that we did when I was in college. It’s been two decades since I graduated from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and I vividly remember being one of just a handful of women in most of my physics and math classes. Certainly, I had it better than women of previous generations, but I guess I was naïve and thought we’d be further along with this by now than we are.

 

Moping about this issue doesn’t tend to get anyone anywhere, however.  I am extremely grateful that these two women have taken up the cause of #womeninSTEM. Happy riding to them both, and I hope they have packed plenty of tasty snacks for the road.

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