Following up on her coding camps, the next step in the Kode With Klossy initiative is highlighting role models in science and tech.
By Katie Collins of CNet
Women perform vital work in science and technology every day. Yet their stories often go untold, leaving girls short of visible role models.
Supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss wants to help change this by shining a light on women who can inspire the next generation of female techies and scientists.
Kloss released on Tuesday a four-part video series called Trailblazers of STEAM to showcase the work of eight women in tech and science who are pushing boundaries in their fields. STEAM, a variant of STEM, stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Each episode examines a different niche — games, food, mobility and space — to show the wide variety of jobs within science and technology. The interviews, which include former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, dig into their work and what it’s like being a woman in their fields. Kloss doesn’t shy away from asking her subjects about the challenges they’ve encountered and overcome, including how others perceive them and how they’ve handled their own internal struggles.
Kloss had already been focusing on tech through her Kode With Klossy initiative that runs coding camps for teenage girls across the US.
Kloss told CNET over email about her hopes for the series, which is a collaboration with Ford STEAM Experience, the car company’s education outreach program.
Q. When you spoke to the amazing women featured in the videos, all of whom work in different STEAM-related fields, what things in their careers did they have in common that helped them get to where they are today?
Kloss: They all shared this unrelenting drive and passion for what they do. It was really awesome to spend a day in their worlds and get to see their determination in action. What also struck me was that each of the women I met for the series talked about experiencing uncertainty or self-doubt at different points in their careers — whether in college, grad school or at their first entry level jobs. They didn’t let those feelings of self-doubt stop them from working hard and pursuing their passions. Everyone has experienced self-doubt at one point or another and it’s important to openly acknowledge those feelings but not let them get in the way of your success.
Q: What would be your advice to a young woman who wanted to work in a STEAM field, but didn’t know where to focus her learning or what path to pursue?
Kloss: To start, apply for Kode With Klossy! We help girls access hands-on computer science education and connect with a community of other women in STEAM. It’s a great place to start!
Beyond applying to our program, my advice for any girl interested in pursuing a career in STEAM is to identify your passions (fashion, social justice, music, etc.) and find out how technology is being applied to those passions. The incredible thing about code, and the first lesson we teach our Kode With Klossy scholars, is that code is a really creative language that can be applied to every industry and space. This series is living proof of how technology is shaping everything from food to gaming to space exploration.
Q: Tell me something you learned about an aspect of science or technology while making the series that blew you away.
Kloss: Talking to each woman in the series was eye-opening, but as someone who is interested in both health and the environment, I was really fascinated by my conversation with Lina Pruitt, a process engineer at Beyond Meat. She uses science and engineering to create a plant-based meat substitute that looks and cooks just like meat. We talked about both the environmental and health impacts of food waste and meat consumption, as well as the future of food and what that means for our world. Food is one of those industries that doesn’t always seem scientific, though in reality, is heavily influenced by STEAM. That’s one of our goals with this series — to show how STEAM intersects with and can applied to whatever industry you’re passionate about.
Q: What do you hope people take away from this series and what do you hope their wider impact will be?
Kloss: Our goal is to address the notion that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” By highlighting these real, accomplished women and their career paths, we hope that young women and girls can visualize themselves in similar positions. We wanted to show our viewers what a career in STEAM actually looks like and how code can be applied to a number of different industries.
Even outside of STEAM, our goal is to celebrate women bringing hard work and creativity to their endeavors. One cool, behind-the-scenes tidbit about the series is that our production team was women-led, including our amazing director Eliza McNitt. It was important for us and the broader Kode With Klossy mission that the series was by-women-for-women.
What do think of Karlie Kloss’ STEM initiative? Sound off in the comments below!