How Women in STEM Inspire Us All

February 11th is International Women and Girls in Science Day!

In 2024, we’re still working to bring more women into STEM industries across the board, including the environmental sciences. While many initiatives exist, and have existed for some years, to break through the green glass ceiling and encourage more young women to pursue climate careers, existing gender biases and inequities continue to discourage — and sometimes systemically prevent — them from doing so.

Gender Equality is listed among the Sustainable Development Goals identified by the Geneva Global Hub for Environmental Governance. And in 2020, the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) adopted a Gender Policy and Implementation Plan to both “promote a gender-inclusive environment” and “raise awareness of gender-related issues.”

And at the Youth Climate Institute, we want to do what we can to provide our students the knowledge and tools to become confident climate leaders in the workplace, higher education, and wherever they might go. So today, we want to highlight some of the strong female leaders in climate that show our young Ambassadors — male and female alike — that they have the ability to make a change and shape the future of our planet.

Dr. Purnima Devi Barman

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Read more about Dr. Barman’s ecological work here, and follow her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Shama, a student participating in the Marriotts Ridge High School chapter of YCI, shared that there are many women in science who have inspired her — but the one who stands out is Dr. Purnima Devi Barman.

“Dr. Barman’s journey from childhood fascination to wildlife biologist is super inspiring.

Despite challenges and delays in her studies, she didn’t give up on her passion for protecting the greater adjutant storks. Instead, she founded the Hargila Army, showing that anyone, regardless of gender, can make a big impact in conservation.

This inspired me to pave my own path in my environmental journey.”

Sometimes it’s our educators that make the biggest impact on our lives. High school senior Amira, a member of the Bowie High School chapter of YCI, highlights Mrs. Beth Novick as the woman in science who nurtured her home-grown love of gardening and sense of stewardship.

“One of my first encounters with the environment was my Grandmother’s expansive backyard garden, where she and my Grandfather grew fruits and vegetables to feed themselves.

When I entered middle school my love of gardening had only grown since then, even growing a few fruits and veggies at home. Naturally, I joined my school’s Green Club. Where I learned from our amazing club sponsor Beth Novick not just about gardening but about sustainability, humanities impact on the environment, and what we can do to limit our negative impact on the Earth.”

beth novick

Beth Novick is a Talented and Gifted Coordinator at Kenmoor Middle School in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is also a Chesapeake Classrooms mentor for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, providing teacher support and resources integrating environmental literacy standards into classroom learning.

MARIE CURIE

There are few names as instantly recognizable as Marie Curie. Curie was not only the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but also the first to win the prize twice — and remains to this day the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two distinct scientific fields.

Amber, a sophomore student participating in the Hammond High School chapter of YCI, identified Curie as the woman in Science who inspires her the most.

“A woman in STEM that has inspired me is Marie Curie. Hearing about her work from a young age has helped me to realize that women can do anything they set their minds to.”

Curie set the stage for female Nobel Laureates in the years to follow, including Dr. Jennifer Doudna. Dr. Doudna received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work in the field of genetics. Her groundbreaking work on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system has made huge strides toward treating genetic diseases.

Dr. Doudna was highlighted by Aleesha of the Urbana High School chapter as someone who motivates her as a young woman in STEM.

“Dr. Jennifer Doudna’s achievements in CRISPR technology remind me that as a woman, I can shape the future of science and contribute to meaningful breakthroughs.”

Dr. jennifer doudna

Jennifer Doudna Headshot courtesy of Doudna Lab.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Doudna’s amazing work!


Ann strozyk

Ann Strozyk is an Environmental Educator at Howard County Public Schools. She has inspired and nurtured students in Howard County for 24 years, leading hands-on environmental education throughout the county both in and out of the classroom.


We are blessed to have strong environmental leaders on our own team here at YCI.

Michael Richman is a Certified Ambassador and current capstone student in the program, and he submitted our own Environmental Educator Ann Strozyk as a woman in science who inspires him as a future climate leader.

Strozyk founded the Youth Climate Institute in 2020 and is the recipient of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.

“Mrs. Strozyk encourages kids to care about the environment, and creates a community in a way that we both need and have never seen before. She has turned climate change into a unifying force for us all.”