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This Day in History: Celebrating Women in STEM at The White House Science Fair

March 23rd 2015 is the 113rd Birthday of Emmy Noether and the first time in history that women scientists represent the majority at the White House Science Fair.

113 years ago today, Emmy Noether, one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century, was born in Germany. Denied and discouraged as a woman, Noether is finally getting the respect she deserves for her brilliant underpaid and unpaid contributions. Featured in today’s Google Doodle, each circle illustrated symbolizes a branch of math or physics to which Noether made groundbreaking contributions. 


Her trailblazing work has inspired women in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) to continue to shatter the glass celling. And today, more women than ever were invited to the 5th-annual White House Science Fair.

That makes this the second year in a row that women scientists represented the majority at the White House Science Fair. 

Noether had to overcome sexism within her field in order to make her career a reality -- a challenge that far too many women still face today. Amongst thousands of male students, Noether was one of the two females allowed to audit classes at Erlangen University. However, her standout test scores spoke for themselves, and she went on to become the second woman ever to receive a degree in the field of mathematics.

“Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”  --Albert Einstein

Here are some of our favorite moments featuring women in STEM at today's White House Sciece Fair:

1.  1st grade girls discuss their battery-powered page turner “prototype” with President Obama.

Pres. Obama to young inventors at White House Science Fair: "You're already great inventors" -

After chatting with their school librarian, the “Supergirls” from Daisy Girl Scouts’ troop 411 discovered that some individuals' disabilities make it difficult to turn the pages of a book. They came up with the concept of a battery-powered LEGO page turner that could turn pages for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. After sharing a group hug with the young women, President Obama encouraged them to continue their work, noting that “girls change the world.”

2. Anvita Gupta “teaches” a computer to identify potential new drugs for cancer, tuberculosis, and Ebola.

“Anvita’s algorithm has the potential of speeding up pathways to discovering what drugs would work on what diseases, and is consistent with some of the work that we announced around precision medicine that we are funding at a significant pace here at the White House.” –President Obama

Beyond using artificial intelligence techniques, 3D visualization, and biomimicry, Anvita is also an advocate for getting more girls in science fields. She started an after-school computer science group to teach middle-school girls programming and app development. Forty girls enrolled in the first year.

3. Tara Anderson’s 3D-printing gives Derby the Dog a new lease on life.

Tara worked with colleagues to design custom-made prosthetics for Derby using data from CAT scans and 2D photos of the dog’s legs. She was able to 3D-print the new limbs. The pup, who has since been adopted by a loving family, can now run and play. He is reported to enjoy accompanying his owners on a two-mile jog every morning.

In his closing remarks from the Science Fair, President Obama announced $240 million in new contributions to help kids learn in STEM fields and told students and women scientists:

“Keep asking why. Don’t settle for what you already know. Never stop believing in the power of your ideas, your imagination, your hard work to change the world.” --President Barack Obama

Learn more about the untold stories of women in science and technology here