Working Scientist podcast: How to inspire young women to consider scientific careers

Two projects aimed at boosting female representation in STEM have won the second Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science and Innovating Science, in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies.
Customised picture book by Jean Fan

Credit: Jean Fan

Doreen Anene and Jean Fan tell Julie Gould about their winning projects and why they launched them.

Jean Fan spent a year volunteering at a science club for high school students during her PhD programme at Harvard University and was struck by how many of them dismissed the idea of becoming scientists themselves.

"A lot of my students would make remarks like 'I'm not quite a maths person,' or would not see themselves as future scientists," she tells Julie Gould.

"I really wanted to leave them with some type of gift to encourage them to continue developing their interest in science."

As a result Fan, who was the sole female graduate student in her PhD bioinformatics programme, launched cuSTEMized, a non-profit that uses personalised educational storybooks (which she writes and illustrates) to inspire girls about scientific careers.

This week, at a ceremony in London, she won the 2019 Inspiring Science Award, one of two offered by Nature Research and the Estée Lauder Companies.

The second award, Innovation in Science, goes to Doreen Anene, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, UK.

In 2017 Anene launched The STEM Belle, a non-profile based in Nigeria, her home country. The STEM Belle also works in Ghana and Pakistan. As its website says, The STEM Belle is "focused on levelling up the female representation in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics fields by attracting, retaining and advancing more girls and young women to STEM subjects and fields."

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.


Doreen Anene and Jean Fan tell Julie Gould about their winning projects and why they launched them.

The transcript for this podcast is currently being prepared and will appear soon.