Lyda Hill Philanthropies Launches the IF/THEN Collection to Educate About Women In STEM

More than 125 women will serve as ambassadors for the program.

the leaders of the program
(Image credit: Courtesy)

Need a picture of a scientist? How about a mathematician? Great news: You can show a real woman in those roles. Thanks to Lyda Hill Philanthropies, journalists, teachers, and museum curators will no longer have to rely on stock imagery largely depicting men doing those jobs. Last week, the organization announced the launch of the world's largest (free) digital library of images and videos focused on women in STEM. The resource is a part of the IF/THEN Initiative (opens in new tab), which seeks to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers and educate themselves on the culture of women in STEM, according to a press release.

"The IF/THEN collection offers unlimited opportunity to influence the visual world around us because we know, 'If she can see it, then she can be it,'" said Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies (opens in new tab) and co-founder of the IF/THEN Initiative. "Our goal is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool. And seeding the visual landscape with images of relatable and diverse women is key to making this happen."

The online resource features photos and videos of more than 125 female STEM change-makers (opens in new tab) selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (opens in new tab) (AAAS) and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to be IF/THEN ambassadors. The diverse group of women, who represent a range of backgrounds, will serve as role models for young women interested in the sciences and technology.

In the past year, the initiative also created a 3D-printed display of 120 female statues titled #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit (opens in new tab). The show was set to premiere earlier this year in Dallas, but was delayed due to COVID-19. If you live in the NYC area, however, you can get a sneak peak: Six figures from the exhibit will be presented and displayed at the Central Park Zoo starting next month.

But the gallery and statues are just two aspects of the initiative. IF/THEN is also teaming up with the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)  (opens in new tab)to fund a $650,000 grant program for ASTC-member museums, according to the press release. This project will help museums, technology facilities, and science centers across the country create exhibits featuring more women.

"The demand for real images of women and gender minorities in STEM is part of an increasing effort among museums to advance representation of the full diversity of humanity in their content," said Cristin Dorgelo, ASTC's president and CEO.

To enable teachers to create classroom projects that include more images and information on women in STEM, IF/THEN is partnering with educational crowdfunding site DonorsChoose (opens in new tab) to launch the IF/THEN Collection Innovation Challenge (opens in new tab). The top 10 most creative projects will receive $5,000 in DonorsChoose credits to use towards their next classroom request. IF/THEN will also give nearly $1.25 million to Girl Scouts of the USA (opens in new tab) and Teach For America (opens in new tab). The goal is for educators to use IF/THEN collection content in their lesson plans and beyond.

"With back-to-school looking very different this year, image-based communication matters now more than ever," said Charles Best, founder, and CEO of DonorsChoose, according to the press release. "By being able to leverage and integrate this robust collection of authentic and diverse imagery of women in STEM into creative and exciting teaching materials and lessons, educators will be instrumental in promoting this new STEM narrative and culture shift."

The future looks bright.

Learn more about the IF/THEN collection, click here. (opens in new tab)


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Bianca Rodriguez

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.