Caroline Fernandez: Lifting Up Women in STEM

October 6, 2023

Welcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Caroline Fernandez. Take it away, Caroline!

There aren’t a lot of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) who grace the pages of history books. Perhaps it is because of lack of education or opportunity. Perhaps it’s because of gender roles. Perhaps it’s because the history books were usually written by men. 

When I outlined my illustrated chapter book series Asha and Baz, the main theme was that the two characters would travel back in time and meet women in STEM. Women who overcame challenges to make amazing discoveries. And through my research, I realized women in STEM was a great category of female history-makers.

There are stacks of books about men in STEM: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Alan Turing, etc. 

But can you name a historical woman in STEM?

Women in history stories are relevant to today’s readers. These trailblazers had to overcome the challenges of their gender, education, social class, and opportunity. They stepped beyond what was expected of them, by the outside world, to what they dreamed for themselves. They weren’t in it for the fame (see above about not being in the history books) or the money (there are no royalties for their findings). They were simply dedicated to their own innovation.  

All readers benefit from learning about famous women in STEM. Readers can learn about inspiration, motivation, and discovery through historical women. These women were often required to be resourceful. They often had to side-hustle their work in STEM due to family obligations. 

For example:

Mary Sherman Morgan. She was an American rocket scientist. She created a rocket fuel which boosted the United States of America into the space race. Unfortunately, she did not get credit for her work in her lifetime. 

Hedy Lamarr. She was a well-known actress but little known as an inventor. She and George Anthiel invented frequency hopping (she has a patent on it and everything!). Frequency hopping is the basis of Bluetooth and WiFi today. 

Elizabeth Friedman. She was an American codebreaker. Her job was breaking secret messages for various U.S. government organizations. During World War II she broke a message which saved the lives of 6,000 men aboard the vessel the Queen Mary.

Katia Krafft: She was a volcanologist. She studied erupting volcanoes and compiled research to help create early warning systems to save lives of people living near active volcanoes.

Gladys West. She is an American mathematician. While working for the Navy, she did the math to help create a little thing known as GPS. GPS is used worldwide for directions and locations. 

Asha and Baz Meet Elizebeth Friedman launched September 2023. In the third book in the Asha and Baz series, readers learn about secret codes and how to break them from World War II codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman! A secret code and a mysterious prize up for grabs at school prompts Asha and Baz to once more use their magic stick to travel to the past. This time they land in 1942, where they meet Elizebeth Friedman, a codebreaker working with the US Navy. She’s the perfect person to help the kids with their codebreaking challenge, but she’s hard at work decoding secret messages from Nazi spies! With a navy officer pressuring Elizebeth to work quickly and the Allied war efforts at risk, the kids could be in for more than they expected in Asha and Baz Meet Elizebeth Friedman!

Other books in this illustrated chapter book series:

Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan

Asha and Baz Meet Hedy Lamarr

1 Comment on ‘Caroline Fernandez: Lifting Up Women in STEM’

  1. You’re doing excellent work, Caroline. I really admire choosing to highlight women’s work and am looking forward to reading your new book.

    Reply | 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *