Mayborn Museum exhibit features Women in STEM

Jonny Schneider, Sophomore, Boulder CO / Nathan Smith, Sophomore, Waco TX

Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

The Mayborn Museum Complex is currently featuring 19 women who have made significant contributions to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The exhibit “Find a Way, Not an Excuse: Women in STEM” was an original idea from former Baylor museum studies graduate students Courtney Berge and Valencia Johnson, according to exhibits manager Trey Crumpton.

Crumpton said Berge and Johnson came up with the concept, conducted research, picked which women to focus on and spoke to Mayborn Museum administration about making it an exhibit.

“We said, ‘Yes!’ And so we took their ideas and kind of reworked it to fit into one of the spaces at the museum,” Crumpton said.

Emily Carolin, Baylor graduate student and former exhibit intern for the Mayborn Museum, said the title of the exhibit comes from the fact that many of these women were told “no” from their superiors.

One woman featured in the exhibit is Ellen Ochoa, the current director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She chose to major in physics as an undergraduate after being told engineering is not a field for women. However, she switched to studying engineering in graduate school. According to the exhibit, Ochoa was also rejected from NASA’s training program three times before being accepted in 1990.

“They [women in the exhibit] chose not to let this get in their way, but instead forged ahead to make a difference in our world,” Carolin said.

Crumpton said this exhibit highlights some individuals who did not get the recognition they deserved for their achievements.

The exhibit is also a way of connecting Baylor to the museum, Crumpton said, as it features five women with strong connections to the university: Dr. Cornella Marschall Smith, Dr. Allene Rosalind Jeanes, Ruth Maxwell Sanders, Dr. Hallie Earle and Dr. Beverly Griffin.

According to the exhibit, Smith entered Baylor’s pre-medical program in 1915 and returned to Baylor from 1943 to 1967 in order to serve as the Chair of Biology and the Director of the Strecker Museum, what is now the Mayborn Museum Complex.

Jeanes, a Baylor alumna from the class of 1928, was recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her discoveries in the science of mass production of polysaccharides.

“This exhibit is very important to bring to the Mayborn Museum audience because it demonstrates that with determination and a lot of hard work, women around the world have the power to do things that have never before been accomplished,” Carolin said.