IF/THEN Ambassador Jennifer Stimpson takes Sabbatical from Hockaday to Write Federal Legislation

Jennifer Stimpson is on a mission: She wants to change what people picture when they think of a scientist.

In 2019, the middle school science teacher was among 125 female innovators named American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassadors as part of a Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ effort to inspire girls and advance women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

This year, Stimpson is on sabbatical from the Hockaday School while serving as an Einstein Fellow selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science in Washington, D.C. 

“Science teachers around the U.S. can compete to spend a year in D.C. working in a variety of federal agencies,” Stimpson said. “I happen to be in the House, and what all of our jobs are is to impart our science and our teaching expertise on how science education can be made better in the future. I’m working with Congress to write legislation to ensure STEM equity, and for all kids to have an adequate understanding and access to science to build science literacy.” 

“Science is everywhere, and because of that, STEM is for everyone.”

Jennifer Stimpson

The program is extremely selective, and Stimpson is the only Texas teacher out of 15 applicants chosen. 

In addition to her work as an Einstein Fellow, Stimpson also sees her role as an IF/THEN Ambassador striving to open young women’s eyes to the opportunities that await them in the STEM fields as crucial. 

“When we thought of scientists even five years ago, people were still thinking of an old, white male,” Stimpson said. “And no disrespect to Bill Nye, but that’s all kids saw. And what IF/THEN is trying to approach is that anyone can be a scientist. The variety [of IF/THEN] is overwhelming in such a positive way that if we don’t change the trajectory of science, I would be surprised.” 

Like most things, Stimpson’s work looks a little different these days due to the pandemic, and she has participated in many virtual panels and presentations.

“Science is everywhere, and because of that, STEM is for everyone,” Stimpson said. “It doesn’t stop because we are in a pandemic. It’s actually all around us right now. So what IF/THEN has done is provide the opportunity for educators, organizations, and outreach programs to ensure girls can have information about science despite the pandemic. We are intentionally changing the narrative of STEM, and I’m so excited to be part of that because I think it’s not only revolutionary, it’s just the way of the future.”

Click here to read more from our 2021 STEAM Special Section

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