International Women’s Day 2024: Celebrating and Elevating Women in STEM

Empowering Excellence: Women Ignite Change Across Diverse Professions

International Women's Day - A celebration of women and diversity

Happy International Women’s Day! For International Women’s Day 2024, we’re celebrating women across STEM fields and professions. While men still outnumber women in STEM industries, there are over 12 million women who work in STEM!

STEM covers a broad range of industries, from traditional fields like science and math, to fields that are less often associated with STEM, like design and healthcare. Across all sectors of STEM, the main principles remain the same: creativity, problem-solving, and innovation.

Increasing gender and racial diversity in STEM remains a key goal for equitable representation in the field. However, sharing women’s successes and joy of working in STEM fields is equally important. Research has shown that if girls had role models of inventors who look like them in the same volume that boys do, the gender gap in innovation would be reduced by 50%.

International Women’s Day is a great day to learn about women leaders in STEM, women-invented solutions, and the initiatives paving the way for more voices in the field.

Empowering Tomorrow's Coders: Hopscotch Revolution Sparks Interest in Girls' Computer Science

Computer programming is one of the STEM fields where women are least represented, making up only 20% of professionals in the industry. However, there is also a lot of energy around encouraging the next generation of girls to pursue careers in computer science.

Samantha John founded Hopscotch in 2012, an app designed for elementary-aged kids to get familiar with coding by creating their own games through a simplified framework. “I just remember as a kid, feeling that programming, video games, [and] all that stuff, it seemed much more like something for boys and not something for me,” John shared with Built By Girls.

Hopscotch builds interest in programming at a critical point in children’s lives. Research shows that kids as young as six years old begin to notice and acquire beliefs that girls aren’t interested in computer science, which has implications when women enter the workforce later on.

“Something I noticed that many of [the men I worked with] had in common is that they started programming when they were very young, when they were 11 or 12 years old,” John recalls. “I know that 12-year-old me would’ve had a blast programming. I wanted to bring that opportunity to more girls like me.”

Her most memorable moments in computer science have been seeing what the next generation of programmers can create using her app. “One day I came into work and one of my colleagues told me, this kid just made 2048 in Hopscotch. It’s pretty complicated to make, I don’t know how to program 2048,” she recalls. “Something I had made was being used to make something that I didn’t know how to make and…that really was a very powerful thing to see.”

Samantha John is a computer programmer and the founder of Hopscotch, an app that allows kids to code their own games and learn the principles of programming.
Samantha John is a computer programmer and the founder of Hopscotch, an app that allows kids to code their own games and learn the principles of programming.

Designing the Future: An Innovative Journey from Big Brands to Google's I/O22

Charmie Shah is a New York City-based designer. She has worked with popular brands like Burger King, Bud Light, and Google to create innovative designs using art and technology.

“I loved telling stories through presentations in school, playing with animation and layouts, basically all the elements of design before I even knew what it was called!” Shah recalls. “Though I initially pursued science for a bit, I eventually discovered my passion for design and the creative freedom it offered.”

Visual design is a field that isn’t always recognized as a part of STEM. However, the work involved in brand design, animation, and other types of design is undoubtedly rooted in STEM. “When I start a new project, I think like a problem solver. How can I create a design that truly stands out, is clear, and sparks joy or makes an impact?” Shah tells Built By Girls about her creative process.

One of the most notable projects for Shah so far was her work with Google for their I/O22 event. “One of the most rewarding experiences was designing and animating visuals for Sunda Pichai's keynote at Google I/O22. It was challenging but incredibly fulfilling to see my work connect with a large audience,” Shah expresses.

“There's so much power in believing in yourself and your creative vision. Don't be afraid to experiment, take risks, and find your own unique voice.”

Women in Science: Bridging the Gender Gap, Shaping the Future of Research

In science, gender disparities show up not in representation, but in pay and leadership roles. One study of researchers’ average salaries found that women make about 89 cents to a man’s dollar for their research. Meanwhile, women are paid less for their research progress, with men making over 250 dollars more for each 1-point increment in the h-index, which is calculated by the amount of publications a researcher has and how often they’re cited in other research.

Despite the barriers to growth and equality in the field, women are still making important contributions to science. The 2024 Forbes 30 under 30 Science section highlighted the impactful research that multiple women are doing, including Julie Jiang. Jiang is a PhD candidate focused on studying human behavior as it relates to modern technology, like artificial intelligence (AI) and online social networking platforms.

Julie Jiang is a researcher focused on studying human behavior and technology. She was recognized as one of Forbes 30 under 30 notable people in science in 2024.
Julie Jiang is a researcher focused on studying human behavior and technology. She was recognized as one of Forbes 30 under 30 notable people in science in 2024.

“By understanding how people communicate online, my research has provided insights into how we can promote positive behaviors of positivity, kindness, and inclusivity and mitigate harmful behaviors of toxicity, misinformation, and polarization,” Jiang describes to Built By Girls. “As AI continues to develop, I think it is more important than ever to focus on developing responsible technology platforms.”

For researchers like Jiang, it’s an exciting time in science, given the modern developments being made in technology. “With the enormous amount of online data, computational social scientists like me can now solve pressing social science problems in a way that we could never do before,” she shares. “Ultimately I hope to ensure that technology serves as a positive force in shaping our lives, both real and virtual.”

Jiang describes her role models as “overwhelmingly male,” including a lot of great scientists but few to none who represent her identities. “The problem with not having a role model who looks like you is that it does funny things to your brain. You start doubting if you can ever be as good as those people,” she expresses. “To all the young women who aspire to become scientists, I want to assure them with a resounding ‘Yes, you can!’”

International Women’s Day and Continuing to Uplift Women in STEM

International Women’s Day has a special role in the lives of many women in STEM, who are able to uplift their own work and get inspired by other women’s initiatives every year on March 8. For women in a field where it can feel lonely and unwelcoming, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to build community and realize all the other women in STEM doing amazing things.

“It’s hard to become what you can’t see,” John voices. “The visibility that women get from [International Women’s Day] I think is wonderful for the women themselves who are getting visibility, but also for the people who can be inspired by those women.”

While there is certainly a need to continue bringing awareness to the gender disparities and barriers women face in STEM, it is also important to spotlight women in STEM and celebrate their accomplishments. “Seeing more women in design, with their diverse backgrounds and perspectives, inspires me every day,” Shah expresses. “It's through each of our unique voices…that we learn and grow as a community.”


Hailey Dickinson (she/her) is a freelance writer for Built By Girls and has been writing for the publication since January 2023. She is a creator passionate about using digital platforms to build community, make connections, and ignite positive social change. Outside of writing for Built By Girls, she manages social media and communications for multiple non-profit organizations. She is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota and has a Bachelor’s degree in communications.