Conservation photographer, game developer, engineer, roboticist, shark researcher — there are more than 122 3D-printed statues of women working in STEM careers in the #IfThenSheCan exhibit at NorthPark Center.
Each of the women in the exhibit is dressed appropriately for her job, and visitors can scan a QR code to find out more about each ambassador.
The exhibit is intended to encourage young girls, especially in middle school, to explore STEM-related fields. Often girls who initially display an interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics fall through the cracks and don’t pursue careers in those fields.
“The vision was that if she can see it, then she can be it, and she’ll be inspired to be it,” says Dr. Julie Mirpuri, a neonatologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Featured in the exhibit, Mirpuri splits her time between working as a physician and researching how maternal nutrition affects how infants develop their microbiome. The research aims to improve babies’ immune system and overall health.
“If another woman or girl is telling their story, then a young girl won’t be afraid to go into an uncharted territory if they know that somebody else has done it and succeeded,” says Nicole Sereika, an aviation maintenance technician at Southwest Airlines who is also featured in the exhibit.
Sereika, who earned a degree in communications and worked on concerts before shifting into an aviation career, regularly takes kids on tours at Love Field during summer programs.
“I love the look on all the kids’ faces every time a new group will come into the hangar,” she says. “I enjoy that it’s eye-opening for them. If I can influence one or two, that’s huge.”
The installation is up through Oct. 24. It also includes outreach programs and encourages ambassadors to interact with students and media to challenge perceptions.
“I think we all might be guilty of hearing ‘rocket scientist,’ and immediately thinking of a man,” Mirpuri says. “But we’re changing the culture so that when you say ‘rocket scientist,’ I see a woman now.”