STEM Role Models: Annie Jean Easley, computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist.
If you're looking for a positive female role model in the field of STEM then Annie Jean Easley is your woman!
Not only facing gender discrimination, Annie Jean was also up against the racial prejudices and inequality having been born into the the pre-Civil Rights Movement in America.
However, the daughter of a forward thinking family, she was encouraged in her studies with the belief that she could achieve and succeed at anything she wanted.
And, amongst her achievements, Annie Jean worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She was a leading member of the team which developed software for the Centaur rocket stage, and was one of the first African-Americans to work as a computer scientist at NASA. She also worked on energy conversion systems to harness solar and wind power, and her advancements in studies on how to increase the life of storage batteries have been used in current commercial systems found in electric cars.
What's more, Annie Jean worked to help other African Americans to prepare for onerous literacy tests required as part of the Jim Crow laws in the 1950's, became a NASA Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counsellor, and was part of a recruitment drive for engineering students.
"I'm out here to do a job and I knew I had the ability to do it, and that's where my focus was, on getting the job done. I was not intentionally trying to be a pioneer." Annie Jean Easley, unintentional pioneer and role model, an example of the type of role model we highlight in our Coding Adventures to promote that everyone has a place in STEM and tech careers!
Annie Jean Easley Image courtesy of NASA