On the evening of April 2nd within Meyers Auditorium in McComsey Hall the STEM Conference. Dedicated to recognizing the contributions of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics the special guest of the night, Ms. Kate Campbell Stevenson, gave her one-woman show, Forging Frontiers: Women Leaders in STEM, to educate the audience through theatre and song.
The immersive performance began with a portrayal of Louise Arner Boyd, an entrepreneur and famed explorer of the Arctic. A song of wanting adventure erupted on the stage, and a story of twenty years of mapping the North Atlantic with its conflicts came after. In a polar explorer costume, with Ms. Stevenson explained that ironically despite Ms. Stevenson’s achievements as an American geographer and businesswoman, her escapades gained more recognition in Europe than the United States. Boyd received many honors from European governments and locations in the Arctic were named after he because of her voyages of discovery, including Louise Boyd Land in Greenland.
After Ms. Stevenson concluded on Boyd’s feats, she began to put on wig, makeup, and some attire all in transition on stage as she introduced the audience to Rachel Carlson. She discussed how Carlson came out against the power of the chemical industry of her time by first writing her book, Silent Spring, which brought to light the vast environmental issues. This was a historic figure responsible for giving the American public awareness of the dangers of pesticides. Ms. Stevenson began singing a solemn song reflecting on Carlson’s hardship before going before Congress on the, including the recent loss of her mother, onset of cancer, and courage to speak out. A reenactment of the beginnings of environmental awareness and change was in front of the audience as Ms. Stevenson’s lyrics when sync of recordings of the Congressional proceedings of Rachel Carlson’s scientific demands of the American people.
The performances had ended for the night, but Ms. Stevenson was key to let the audience know about modern titans in STEM. This included Lisa Wilt, a marine biologist doing significant work in the Chesapeake Bay region, as well as NASA scientist Florence Tan, who was in charge of anything electrical for the Mars Space Rover, Curiosity.
This was Ms. Stevenson’s first visit to Millersville University, but this was not the first time she has educated audiences on women in history in STEM events. She has been spreading awareness of modern day women in the field of STEM for five years, and been doing the performances of the historical figures for eight years now.
She is responsible for both writing the vignettes and setting up the scenes of her performances. She explained that although she writes some of themes of her music the credit of lyrics goes to her good friend, Martha Hart Johns. The process of finalizing these skits of history, music, and an authentic portrayal take Ms. Stevenson months to perfect.
Ms. Stevenson explained that her children, especially her daughter, were inspiration for her commitment to portraying women of the STEM fields, and give awareness to those that are active today. She explained,
“It was a mother’s anger that got me off my duff to provide strong female role-models for my children, their peers and even adults to understand that women have been leaders throughout history–they just weren’t writing the history books!”
The event shined a light on notable contributions that women have provided to the world in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while also showing the unfortunate fact that there is a threat to this being overlooked. The overarching message is change in mindset, a recognition that these historical women not only contributed to the field of STEM but advanced the progress of human understanding of the world surround them., so that no matter the gender a person is they can be inspired to do the same.