#IfThenSheCan: Exhibit meant to inspire the next generation of women in STEM

The life-sized, 3D-printed statues of 125 women who filled the garden at the the Smithsonian Institution in March were from the traveling #IfThenSheCan Exhibit, which was meant to encourage women to consider careers in the STEM (science, technology and mathematics) fields.

The featured women are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IF/THEN® Ambassadors, serving as high-profile role models for middle-school girls.

The purpose behind the exhibit organized by IF/THEN® is the motto, “IF she can see it…THEN she can be it,” which means it is important to encourage visibility of women in STEM to inspire young girls and raise awareness about the possibilities that come with pursuing STEM careers. This initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies serves to inspire STEM leaders of the future and to have those fields be reflective of the society and communities they impact.

SDBio member in the group

One of the featured statues was of Dr. Ashley Podhradsky, Associate Dean and Professor of Digital Forensics in the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Dakota State University and a member of the Board of South Dakota Biotech (SDBio) the state affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

Dr. Podhradsky is a passionate advocate for increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity. The CybHER program she co-founded has been supported by several grants including from the National Security Agency (NSA). Podhradsky was the recipient of the EmBe 2017 “Young Woman of Achievement”, as well as the 2017 Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research, and has been a New America Cybersecurity Fellow.

“Our ag-related technology, our human health technology and our next-generation energy technology all require a high and evolving level of cybersecurity. These industries have to be operating in lockstep, and Ashley is helping us build the relationships needed to get there,” said Joni Ekstrum, Executive Director of SDBiotech.

BIO’s dedication to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion inspired the BIOEquality Agenda and is steadfast in its commitment to that agenda’s Three Pillars of Change which include:

  •  Promoting Health Equity
  • Investing in the Current and Next Generation of Scientists
  • Expanding Opportunity for Women and Other Underrepresented Communities

For the future of the biotechnology sector, the industry must continue to strive to ensure that it is as diverse as the patients and communities it serves.

See a virtual tour of the exhibit here.

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