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Sapna Cheryan discusses the potential impact of media and role models on women interested in science, technology, engineering and math in Crosscut article.


For women in science, the challenges are personal



When Emily Levesque was 2 years old, her older brother was assigned a school project on Halley’s Comet. It was 1986, and the comet was visible in the night sky when it was clear, so one night, her whole family went to the backyard. But Levesque was scared of the dark.

Her parents told her to look up. That’s when she got hooked to star gazing.

Today, Levesque is an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Astronomy Department. Her research is focused on massive stars and stellar evolution.

On her path from a little girl with a question about stars to a woman with a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Physics, Levesque has had almost nothing but good experiences in the sciences.

But her story stands in contrast to the experiences of many women, both as students and pursuing careers in science. Considerable attention has been devoted to the difficulties and occasional blatant discrimination facing women in studying or working in computer sciences.

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