Next month, the Smithsonian is celebrating Women’s History Month in a big and bold way: by displaying 120 life-size neon orange statues of female scientists in multiple locations around the National Mall.
The 3D printed characters pay homage to a diverse group of women who have excelled in science and technology, from biologists tracking endangered species to astronomers searching for extraterrestrial life. The project is a collaboration between the Smithsonian and If/Then, an initiative “designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers.”
The #IfThenSheCan exhibit will be on display at the National Mall from March 5-27 and will be “the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled”, according to the event’s press release.
“We are thrilled to shine a light on the work of these game-changing STEM innovators and help expand the narrative about who is leading in these areas,” Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts and Industries Building, said in a statement. “These women are changing the world and inspiring the generation that will follow them.”
Female trailblazers featured in the exhibit include Jessica Esquivel, one of 150 black women with PhDs in physics in the country, and Karina Popovich, a student who has produced more than 82,000 3D-printed pieces of PPE. for healthcare workers during the pandemic, according to Ashraf Khalil for The Associated Press. Others include astrophysicist Kelly Korreck, wildlife biologist Kristine Inman, microbiologist Dorothy Tovar and United States women’s national soccer team doctor Monica Rho.
Visitors will be able to learn more about each scientist by scanning a QR code on each statue that links to a personal story, reports Adam Barnes for The hill.
From March 5, come face to face with 120 life-size statues of #WomenInSTEM innovators in the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled. To explore #IfThenSheCan on the National Mall and enjoy programs throughout #WomenFuturesMonth. https://t.co/LeAIj1Rhv6
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) February 11, 2022
“These striking 3D-printed figures of remarkable women in STEM careers help us celebrate the incredible impact women continue to have on vital scientific endeavors,” Lonnie Bunch, secretary of the Smithsonian, said in a statement. “This exhibit shows how a more diverse and inclusive workforce will strengthen our shared future.
The installation is part of a larger movement to create a more inclusive vision that can excel in science, technology, engineering and math. In the United States, women make up nearly half of the workforce, but only about 27% work in scientific fields. The STEM gap is even more pronounced in some areas. Only around a quarter of those working in IT and around 15% in engineering identify as women.
The exhibition “gives us the perfect opportunity to show that women have successfully thrived in STEM for decades, while illustrating the countless role models young women can find in all walks of life,” says Ellen Stofan, Deputy Smithsonian secretary for science and research, in a report.
Visitors can find the 120 statues in the Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian Castle and Enid A. Haupt Garden during opening weekend March 5-6, reports Washingtonianis Kayla Benjamin. Some figures will then be moved to other Smithsonian museums and gardens around the National Mall, where they will remain on display until March 27.