Meet Carol Allen.
Carol B. Allen is an author and international, award-winning creative professional. She has held leadership positions in firms that believe in strengthening community across the New York Tri- State Area. She plays an active role in supporting opportunities to enhance young women’s interest in the STEM fields as well as advancing causes that protect the environment.
She serves on the Advisory Board for Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM), part of Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Additionally, she has participated on the Advisory Committee for the Girl Scouts STEM program.
A University of Michigan graduate, Carol received high honors and the prestigious Student of Distinction recognition.
Carol resides in Westchester County and is an active member of the Pound Ridge Authors Society. When she isn’t writing, Carol enjoys the city life and the country life, balancing her time with her family, exploring the cultural offerings of Manhattan as well as the great outdoors of the bucolic Northeast woodlands.
Her website is: www.carolballen.com
Her Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/carolballenauthor/
Guest Post: “THE VOICE WITHIN OUR WORDS”
My imagination was running wild. I sat at my keyboard, my fingertips racing to paint a picture of worlds destroyed by climate change for my YA Fantasy, One If. I was obsessed with the exciting story spinning in my brain and calling attention to my passions—the impact of climate change and encouraging young women in STEM.
Can you picture an apoplectic planet in an alternate universe where technology and development destroy all natural resources? The result could potentially be a planet with two remaining worlds: an Upperworld where an avian species lives in the clouds and an Underworld where a piscine species lives beneath the sea. As the storyline for One If unwinds, three teen STEM students trapped on the planet, work together to solve the crisis while battling to stay alive. Could any of this really happen? To a degree, there is certainty it can.
The media hurls the repercussions of climate change at us daily with resounding reminders about—the of loss of our shorelines, our coastal cities at risk, the melting ice in the Arctic poles, the extinction of countless species, raging forest fires, and extreme weather traumas around the world. While there are those who deny the empirical evidence, activists like Greta Thunberg and the Sunrise Movement are making sure our voices are heard.
Understanding the dynamics of the “genderscape” in STEM is more subtle. I remember my own reaction at my first committee meeting for AWSM, an anacronym for Advancing Women in Science and Medicine, an organization tied to Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. I had a seat at the table with uber-smart women with creds akin to rocket science. I thought how is it possible these women are organizing to bring awareness to leveling the STEM playing field? The truth may be difficult to grasp, but advanced degrees don’t carry their weight in STEM. Women in STEM struggle much like the women in many male-dominated fields. But STEM is an area where gender balance is sorely needed.
Our world is changing in milliseconds. We are inextricably tied to our electronics and those who develop them are hot commodities in the marketplace. Yet men succeeding in STEM outpace the women by leaps. Whether clutched in our hand or strapped to our wrists, this rectangular tangle of technology is now an additional appendage, extensions of our hand and our brain, we can’t live without.
We would be remiss underestimating the evolutionary job market awaiting those with expertise in STEM. Look around. Unless you are wearing blindfolds, it is clear women are underrepresented in every STEM field. There are more career slots in STEM now than men can possibly fill. And more on the way each day. The stats tell us otherwise, depicting only one quarter of STEM workers are female. This is in contrast to the number of women in the labor force, which stands at approximately 50%. Only 28% of women are in STEM fields (ncgproect.org) as opposed to 72% of men.
STEM skills are going to be the bedrock of future jobs. We need to attract young women and provide them with the opportunities. We must give them role models they can relate to—role models who will leave them inspired and enthused. Young girls will then learn they can fulfill STEM careers in real life and how they can help make a difference in the world.
In my novel, One If, that’s where my two teen female protagonists, Parker and Henley, serve to make a difference. Multi-cultural brilliant achievers, they are proud of their scientific accomplishments. Parker and Henley are modeled after many of the young women I met on my path at AWSM. I hope my characters inspire girls to achieve at their highest potential in the STEM fields. And, at the same time, they will learn to collaborate with their male counterparts, just like Henley and Parker team up with Edison, my teen male protagonist.
My hope is fantasies, like One If, are not just fantasies, especially as they relate to the gender issue in STEM. I hope my message will set an example for young women, reshape our culture, and intrigue young girls to pursue careers in STEM. We need them!