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Women in Astronomy

Rising Stargirls: Girls of All Colors Learning, Exploring, and Discovering

4 Feb 2015, 12:00 UTC
Rising Stargirls: Girls of All Colors Learning, Exploring, and Discovering
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Aomawa Shields (Photo Credit: Martin Cox)Today's guest blogger is Aomawa Shields. Aomawa is an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow and UC President’s Postdoctoral Program Fellow in the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy and CfA. She studies the climate and habitability of extrasolar planets in multiple-planet systems. She was recently named a 2015 TED Fellow. Aomawa also has an MFA in Acting from UCLA, and uses her theater background to communicate science to the public in engaging, innovative ways. My primary goal as a scientist is to find the next planet where life exists. I also have another goal, which sometimes feels even more important: To nurture young life on this planet, by encouraging young girls of color to look beyond social and media perceptions of what a scientist is, has been, or isn’t, and to see themselves as potential scientists – especially astronomers. Given that kids from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences often stop pursuing their interest in STEM fields long before they enter college, due to a lack of self-confidence and few role models who look like them (Weir 2007), there is a critical need for an innovative approach to astronomy education that targets young girls ...

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