In Conversation with STEMinst Taylor Richardson

Written by: Emily on January 22, 2018
Tags: Inspiration, Interviews, Role Model, Teen

Taylor Richardson is living proof that it’s never too early to start pursuing your dreams. At the age of 14, Taylor, an aspiring astronaut, activist and STEMinst, has already been featured in 2017 Teen Vogue 21 under 21, and has contributed to over 70 campaigns raising a total $120,000. One of Taylor’s most notable projects included a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for 100 girls to watch Hidden Figures, a movie that inspired her to follow her dreams. Due to this, Taylor was invited to the White House for a special screening of the movie.

Taylor on the cover of Aviation for Girls

We are incredibly inspired by Taylor and all the work that she does, so we wanted to learn more about her motivations and her current projects. Here is Herstory…

Why aren’t there more girls in STEM, what do you think the problems are?

That’s a good question. It could be a host of things, like lack of encouragement, teasing, stereotypes. But what I do know is in 2018 we girls are reclaiming our STEM. With the right mentors, coaches, teachers, investors, sponsors, peer support from boys and from each other, girls we will do just that. LEAD in STEM! I feel that the lack of representation of girls in the mainstream media when it comes to STEM needs work. We need to be represented and valued just like someone in a Nike ad or other media platform.

Taylor as the Teen Vogue Summit

Is it important for people to study STEM subjects at school?

Yes, I think it’s very important to take STEM courses and it’s even more important to ensure inclusion, engagement and supportive environments for in these studies as well. STEM education is vital to our future. STEM is everywhere; it shapes our everyday experiences.

And we as a society need to encourage students currently in our educational systems, as well as future generations of students, to understand and embrace the technology that affects them every day of their lives.

Students should be advised on the merits of taking as many math and science courses in middle and high school as much as possible. And these courses need to be taught by engaged and enthusiastic teachers using hands-on and minds-on activities. Making science and math courses fun and interesting will not only help students to learn, but also plant the “seed of interest” that could grow into an exciting and rewarding STEM career.

Taylor with some children

Why are you so passionate about getting more girls into space?

Well I’m passionate about getting more girls into space because if you look at the majority of Astronauts they are mostly white males. So for me there is a gender and race gap in space exploration that needs to be addressed. There are hundreds astronauts and only 21 are African American, out of that only 14 have been to space and only 7 are African American women. Get the picture?  It’s imperative that girls, especially girls of colour, know that this is not a lofty dream but an attainable one with hard work.  I want girls to know that the possibility of going into space, exploring other planets, being rocket scientists, engineers and mathematicians for them is not that it is limited but limitless! #representation matters.

Taylor & her idol Mae Jemison

Who is your inspiration/role model?  

My main STEM role model is of course Dr Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to go into space. Like her, Bessie Coleman, Annie Easley, and Katherine Johnson, girls like me are standing on their shoulders. I also have role models who are amazingly talented STEM GenZ’s and they are taking the world by storm like; Abigail Harrison, Allie Weber, Hannah Herbst, Julie Sage, Kaitlyn Ludlam, Elijah Horland, Jordan Reeves, Erica Wagner, Laalitya Acharya, Gitanjali Rao, Gabriel Pfaffman, Zandra Cunningham, Simone Bridges and many more who changing the game of STEM in their own extraordinary ways. Shoutout to #youngscientistsprobs!

Taylor on the cover of Science World

You have carried out so many inspiring campaigns, what are you working on at the minute?

I’m raising funds through GoFundMe to send a 1000 girls to see the upcoming movie a Wrinkle in Time that comes out this March, along with giving them the book. This movie is very important because Meg reminds me of myself and she represents girls like me who are in STEM, it’s about time we have own Shero and be a warrior right?! I’m hoping to also raise additional funds to send another person to space camp this summer and purchase new books for kids who can’t afford them to have so they can have their own home libraries. I have always believed that reading books is instrumental in shaping who may become. So please donate and share..

Taylor & the girls in her previous campaign

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I will just be starting college, majoring in engineering and African American studies, continuing to volunteer and hopefully walking side by side with the next generation of STEM.

Taylor Richardson

What’s one piece of advice would you give to other young girls?

Don’t let what you can’t see at first deter you from achieving your dreams. Dream fearlessly and know that you are worthy.   As my idol Dr Jemison, said, “never be limited by others limited imagination and always bring someone to the table with you.”

Taylor Richardson & space suit

You can keep up with Taylor and her work on Twitter.

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