Science Cheerleader is featured in the current issue of Engineering and Technology Magazine. Be sure to check out the Q&A with Summer (Texans cheerleader-turned-NASA engineer!) towards the bottom of the article!
The Science Cheerleaders are a group of scientists and engineers who are also current and former US professional cheerleaders. They came together last year to promote and celebrate women in STEM careers.
Darlene Cavalier is the founder of ScienceCheerleader.com, a blog that aims to promote the involvement of citizens in science and science-related policy. She is also a former professional cheerleader for the basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers. In her mission to improve science literacy, she decided to enlist the help of the 2009 76ers cheerleaders to promote “18 things you need to know to be science literate”. This zero-budget collaboration with George Mason University put her blog on the map and spawned the Science Cheerleaders in 2010, a group of scientists and engineers who are also current and former professional cheerleaders for the NBA, NFL and other pro sports leagues.
Here Darlene tells us how it all began and why the group’s members are such powerful ambassadors for science and technology careers and we meet a cheerleading engineer from NASA.
How did you form the Science Cheerleaders?
I started receiving emails from professional cheerleaders pursuing science careers and I decided to profile these remarkable women on the blog. Shortly after that, I received an invitation for them to perform at the USA Science and Engineering Festival (the Burroughs Wellcome Fund sponsored their appearance). That was the first time I had met any of the women. I could hardly believe the reaction from festival-goers: overwhelmingly positive. Long lines of people waited for their autographs and hundreds of little cheerleader-wannabes learned why these women are so passionate about their science and engineering careers. That’s when I knew we were onto something big. The Science Cheerleaders are powerful ambassadors of the site and, it turns out, have been very influential in challenging stereotypes and inspiring young girls to consider careers in science and technology.