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Smithsonian puts focus on STEM standouts for Women’s History Month

120 life-size statues of women from science and technology fields to be exhibited in and around museums on the Mall.

Sculptures of women in science and technology fields were made from 3D printers for the exhibit "#IfThenSheCan.” The exhibit will be at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington during March to mark Women's History Month. (Courtesy If/Then Collection)
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The Smithsonian will commemorate Women’s History Month in March by displaying 120 life-size neon-orange statues depicting women who have excelled in the fields of science and technology.

The 3D-printed statues will be displayed in the Smithsonian Gardens and in some museums in the Smithsonian network from March 5 to 27. A statement announcing the display calls it “the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together.”

The statues depict women who have excelled in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. These include Jessica Esquivel, one of 150 Black women in the United States with a doctorate in physics, and Karina Popovich, a college student who produced more than 82,000 pieces of 3D-printed personal-protective equipment for health-care workers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Each statue features a quick response (QR) code that links to the story of the depicted woman online. The statues have been displayed in Dallas, Texas, and a few of them were in New York City’s Central Park Zoo.

Ellen Stofan, the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for science and research, said in a statement that the exhibit,“provides the perfect opportunity for us to show that women have successfully thrived in STEM for decades, while also illustrating the innumerable role models young women can find in every field.”

The women being honored were chosen by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They include: NASA astrophysicist Kelly Korreck; wildlife biologist Kristine Inman; microbiologist Dorothy Tovar; mathematics professor Minerva Cordero; and U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team physician Monica Rho.

The display, titled “#IfThenSheCan — the Exhibit,” will feature the Smithsonian’s oldest museum, the Arts and Industries Building — which reopened last year after being closed to the public since 2004. During the opening weekend, the 120 statues will be displayed there and in the Smithsonian Castle and the Enid A. Haupt Garden next door. After the opening weekend, the statues will be placed at Smithsonian museums across the Mall.

“These women are changing the world, and providing inspiration for the generation that will follow them,” said Arts and Industries Director Rachel Goslins in a statement.