ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On March 14 and 15, people across the country were dressing for STEM by wearing the color purple to support women in science, technology, engineering, and math, and to recognize their achievements.

“Dress for STEM” is a grassroots movement that began six years ago with a group of female broadcast meteorologists who wanted to encourage young girls to pursue their passion for science. This has become an annual event that is “celebrated” each year on Pi Day – March 14 – to commemorate the mathematic constant, pi.

Women make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. But according to the American Association of University Women, females only account for roughly a quarter of the STEM workforce and are particularly lacking in the fastest growing and highest paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.

The problem starts early for girls. Research shows that many young girls lose their confidence in their math skills by the third grade. The decline is linked to inaccurate gender stereotypes.

Part of the problem is a lack of women to look up to in the field. That’s why this year, we are also recognizing the successes of women in STEM.

  • Katharine Burr Blodgett, a Schenectady native, was General Electric’s first female scientist. She created technology to eliminate the glare on your glasses and improved microscopes. She holds patents that including improvements to the lightbulb and de-icing for airplane wings.
  • The mathematic efforts of NASA’s Katherine Johnson and other “hidden figures” were critical to the first U.S. crewed spaceflights.
  • June Bacon-Bercy was the first African American on-air meteorologist.
  • Marie Curie was a pioneer in radioactivity research and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • Ada Lovelace was the very first female computer programmer.
  • Following her husband’s death, Emily Roebling was instrumental in the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.

There are countless other inspiring women in STEM.