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JeanFan's avatar
By JeanFan


Video with better audio haha:


In case anyone is interested in what I sound like in real life, check out the video in cuSTEMized's new Kickstarter campaign:…

For those who don't know, a group of friends and I recently launched cuSTEMized as a not-for-profit initiative to help girls envision themselves in STEM careers. We're currently seeking to raise funds through Kickstarter to implement a website that will allow parents to customize our book __'s Little Book of Big Dreams to have their daughter's name and general appearance.

If you could contribute a dollar, link to the Kickstarter campaign on your FB, ask potentially interested friends or family to donate, or anything, that'd be really great! All donors will be acknowledged on the final website. There are lots of other redeemable prizes too! Check it out!

:star: :star:

Photography is a serious hobby for me.

Outside of photography, I am currently pursuing my PhD at Harvard in bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary subject that combines computer science and biomedical engineering – both considered STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. I am the only girl in my program this year. Unfortunately, the lack of girls in STEM is not limited to my program; boys still largely outnumber girls in nearly all STEM fields, particularly in the United States:

According to the US Department of Commerce, girls (women, females, Homo sapiens with two X chromosomes) remain vastly underrepresented in STEM fields. Despite filling nearly half of all jobs in the US, girls hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. And despite the rising number of girls pursuing college degrees, girls hold a disproportionately low share of STEM degrees. The problem is multifold but studies suggest that it may start as early as grade school: girls are rarely encouraged to pursue STEM subjects or to envision themselves with STEM careers. Indeed, a recent study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that women are more likely to drop out of STEM fields because they lack a "self-concept" of themselves as scientists – they could not picture themselves in STEM!

Recently, I, along with a few friends, launched cuSTEMized, a not-for-profit initiative to help girls envision themselves in STEM and to encourage them to pursue STEM using customized education and outreach.

Our upcoming picture book makes your daughter (or niece, or you, or whoever) the hero of her own story in which she dreams of herself grown up in various STEM careers. A website will allow you to customize the book to have her name and general appearance with the help of avatars. You can then download the book (for free!) as a PDF and print it out yourself or contribute a donation to cover the costs of having the book printed and shipped.

Please support cuSTEMized and keep up with developments on Facebook:

Most importantly, talk to the little girls in your life and encourage them to consider STEM!


© 2013 - 2021 JeanFan
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PyrrhusiVictoria's avatar

Absolutely amazing project! I'm just sad I didn't see this post before. Back when I was in college studying engineering, there was exactly one girl in all of the four years taking engineering classes. Years later, when I started teaching at USF, my CIS courses included a healthier mix that about 40-ish% female. Unfortunately, that doesn't translate to real work for some reason. Silicon Valley is, pardon the crude expression, a complete sausage-fest. As males, it's partly our fault too, because a lot of STEM workplaces are very male-oriented in their culture, and aren't welcoming of females (even if it's not entirely intentional). It may not always be the intent, but the culture can be off-putting. Women often have to "be one of the guys" in order to fit in. That awareness is something that I think the STEM workplaces really need to focus on. However, I'm really happy you guys are working to get women interested, because it's also true that many women don't see themselves in this sort of field.


I think everyone benefits from having a more complete outlook by inclusion. Just a couple weeks ago, Twitter was criticized for lacking any (or having extremely few) females in senior management and boards, despite the fact that women are the largest demographic using their product. It sort of reminds me of stories I heard about back in the 60s, when care manufacturers didn't hire women, and men would put paperclips on their fingers to simulate females with long nails in order to see the car from a woman's perspective... 


Anyway, sorry for the rambling :) From one Bostonian to another, great job, and I wish you guys all the luck in the world!

petrova's avatar
Awesome project!
CarlosAE's avatar
Hehehe...I knew it. I knew your voice is going to sound like a regular person. :D

P.S. I donated my money to your kickstarter. ^_^
JeanFan's avatar
:giggle: well I'm a pretty regular person :XD: it'd be cooler to sound like an alien though

:hug: Thanks so much
CarlosAE's avatar
An alien ehhhh? Maybe you are interested to voice like Xenomorph from Alien? Or Predator from Predator? :XD: (Just Kidding).

And you're welcome. :love: ^_^
creativsis's avatar
(Kind of reminds me of this one "The Big Bang Theory" episode where Sheldon and others went to schools to encourage girls to go into science related programs).

I'm really happy that you have done this! I recall that from my own graduating high school class, there was a group of boys that were going into engineering and only 2 girls.
di-Anne's avatar
This is a real interesting initiative. I wish you lots of good luck with it! :w00t:
Argolith's avatar
That's an interesting idea. In most European countries the situation is similar. In Austria, for instance, there is currently a lot of pressure from the administrative layer of the educational system to bring more women into science. However, it doesn't seem to be working particularly well. I believe the interest for science has to be sparked a lot earlier. It's much too late after the kids have been dumbed down by highschool.
MReiser's avatar
same problem in germany
we had about 2-3 women in computer science per term and now about 10 in civil engineering 
I wish you good luck and all the best with your program!

oanalivia's avatar
I have been the only girl in my entire team when pursuing my PhD in Computer Science and Computer Graphics. Here in France they have the same problem with girls not going for STEM. Although Biology and Math seem to have a little more candidates than Computer Science.
I have also taken part in a campaign meant to encourage college girls to consider these fields also.
However, I think this is a problem that goes well beyond the simple "You can do it". I notice this to be an issue of the developed countries, where women and men have roles that are well defined and girls always play with dolls and boys get to be cops and doctors. I come from an ex-communist country (Romania) where for generations women and men were told that they are so damn equal that they should better stop complaining and start doing all the hard work (my mum was in the army - the army was mandatory even for women). So today we are no longer communist but the mentality remains. We have lots of girls going for Computer Science, math, bio, chemistry, physics and all the rest. And I noticed the same being true after talking to friends from Ukraine and Russia. We also have lots of Chinese girls in computer science here in France.
But I often heard the French girls saying that what I do is "a man's job" and they were amazed at how I am able to understand all that computer stuff.   

Sorry for the long ramblings ... the subject is quite important to me.

Anyways, I think it is wonderful what you are doing. And if your initiative results in some girls changing their views and really choosing  a future career without prejudice, then it is worth every word and every sweat. So good luck.
JeanFan's avatar

Let me know if you'd be interested in getting involved with critiquing/beta-testing the draft of the children's book. We'd just send you a copy of the draft and some of the graphics and you can give us your opinion (if the pictures are too blue, if the words are too big blah blah) And I can list your name on the inside cover with acknowledgements. We're always looking for more STEM girls to provide a better perspective on how to encourage other girls to pursue STEM. Thanks! :highfive:

oanalivia's avatar
Sorry for taking so much time to answer, but I haven't been around DA lately.
Yes, I would love to get involved.
I will send you a note with my email address.
Have a wonderful day !
JDWasabi's avatar
Strangely enough, this was one of the issues being discussed at at a conference I was at a few days ago.  Slightly off topic but Women in Games Jobs will definitely have support links for this kind of project since encouraging girls into technology / sciences early in education was a key concept being discussed when I attended. The main problem is also the same - many young girls are often discouraged or can't see themselves working in this kind of field because of the lack of 'self concept' and the ladies at the conference I attended definitely want to change the tech/science industry and at least encourage more female diversity. I'm sorry I can't help any further but I hope this helps a little bit ^_^.  I wish your project success!
JeanFan's avatar
Thanks for the link :D

JDWasabi's avatar
Welcome! Hope it helps in someway :D
HalfGeniusHalfWit's avatar
I think this is a magnificent idea!  If you are able to help inspire even one young girl towards a career in the sciences that she may otherwise not have seen as an option for herself, then you will have done something truly wonderful.  I will share this on Facebook as best I'm able and wish you only the best in getting this out there. :D
JeanFan's avatar
Precisely :D thank you! :hug:
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