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Women @ NASA web site

November 21, 2011

I think we’ve talked about the women@nasa website before. It seemed to have lapsed, but a press release today shows that it’s back up, and it’s got some pretty nice content. My only grouse is that of the “science” section, none of the women are working scientists – they are all engineers.However, our own Woman in Planetary Science, Jen Heldmann, is a face on the front page!

Personally, I’d love to hear if you all have any feedback on this site or its utility. What are websites like this used for? Do women get inspired because they see these faces on a webpage like this? Should we be showing it in EPO activities?


WASHINGTON — NASA has expanded its Women@NASA website to include
Aspire 2 Inspire, a new feature aimed at helping middle school girls
explore education and careers in science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The site features four short films and one overview film that explore
the careers and backgrounds of early-career women who work for NASA
in each of the STEM areas. A list of community organizations and
NASA-affiliated outreach programs with a STEM emphasis also is

The site also features four Twitter feeds where visiting girls can
interact with and submit questions to the young women featured in the

“We have an opportunity to reach out to the next generation and
inspire today’s girls to pursue science and technology careers,” said
Rebecca Keiser, the agency’s associate director for agency-level
policy integration and representative to the White House Council on
Women and Girls. “Expanding opportunities in these fields will give
our country perspectives and expertise that will help us
out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the world. It’s key to our

Visit the website at:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2011 1:15 pm

    I was reminded today by Phil Plait’s blog of a Zach Weiner comic that perfectly sums up why I really don’t like the aesthetic design of the website (and why it does kind of matter what the design is):

    Other than the design, I think Kristin has nicely summed up how to improve the content. The idea of the site is great, but the execution should be improved.

  2. November 22, 2011 1:12 pm

    I agree with what both Kristin and geochemom have said. Also, from a nitpicky web design standpoint, I don’t care for the design of the page at all. The pink text and the flower in the logo seem cheesy. You don’t need pink and flowers to appeal to girls! There’s also too much text on the homepage, making it look busy and cluttered. As Kristin suggested, more photos of women in the context of their jobs would be better.

    Did anyone notice that both of the page editors as well as the NASA official listed at the bottom of the site are all men? I wonder if any women helped design this page at all.

    • December 13, 2011 1:00 pm

      Just a comment – I did try to become involved in this effort when it was launched, by emailing the contacts at the bottom of the page, and was told that I could certainly do some work for them for free.

      They were each paid, mind you, but there were no opportunities for community involvement or consulting on the project, except for free. Now, I do an awful lot of work for free – but in this case, I was offering my skills as a consultant, and I just can’t prioritize web design work and consulting without being paid.

  3. November 22, 2011 11:02 am

    I took a look at the site yesterday and watched the “science” video. As Susan mentioned, only one of the people they focused on is actually a scientist. However, her job is to “coordinate and communicate” science, not actually do the science itself. Based on the interviews, I wonder if all these women work at the same location. If it was a location where engineering is the focus, that’s fine, but don’t try to call it science. I’m in science because I’m curious. I want to find out how the world, solar system, and universe work. I want to discover new things about the planets around me. The sense of wonder, curiosity, and discovery I get from all of my scientist friends, both male and female, is lacking in these interviews, so I was disappointed.

  4. November 21, 2011 7:59 pm

    Moving the brief conversation snippets from twitter over to here. . .

    The aim of the site is awesome, of course. And the pink still irks me (I can almost hear the glitter and sparkles), but I’m not a fan of pink in general.

    I wish they had shown pictures of the women in their element, rather than in the photo-shoot style, uniform shots at the top of the page. Pictures of the women active in their labs or at their computers, or in the field, or with their dog or hiking or wherever. I understand not everyone has an awesome looking workstation, or a photogenic pet, and it would probably cost more to get those kind of pictures in high quality for everyone. It would, I think, draw girls and young women into the activities people in the STEM profession engage in. Right now the pictures seem to highlight the fact that they *are* women. But we know that already– we’re at the site. How about putting in images that can start to replace the old-white-guy-lab-coat scientist mental picture?

    There’s also some text that bothers me:

    “We believe. . . young girls should be empowered, because they are valuable and can make significant contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The fact is, women are already making incredible impacts to these fields. The videos below are just a glimpse at what yesterday’s young girls are doing today.”

    Why does this need to be said? Of course girls are valuable, and of course they can make significant contributions. Would you ever write “we believe that boys can make contributions”? Don’t spell this out- show it. Show me the women in STEM fields- just get on with it. “already making incredible impacts” – is that the best choice of words. . . already? How about- women have been contributing to these fields for quite some time, often not getting the recognition they rightly deserve. Actually, the more I sit with that paragraph, the more I dislike it.

    All of that being said, I like the profiles of the women, though I haven’t read them all. I’m also annoyed that “Engineering” doesn’t quite fit in the box. šŸ™‚

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