When THNKer Sylvia Struck was a child, her favourite toy was a microscope.
“I would go and explore my environment and bring back pond water and look at it under the microscope... and it was just an incredible, beautiful world. It intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about it and how the world works and how things fit together.”
Sylvia’s early interest in science is not surprising given that her father worked for NASA during the great space race, working on systems from Apollo to the Space Shuttle. Growing up on a planetarium-topped mountain, Sylvia seemed destined for a career in the sciences. The greatest obstacle to achieving her dream turned out to be her gender.
On her first day of university, however, Sylvia recognized the first of many instances of gender bias in her field. “One of the things I noticed when I stepped into the engineering building was that there were male restrooms on every single floor of the building, while female restrooms were only on every other floor. It struck me that they had not anticipated women going into what was then – and still is – a male-dominated field.”
Sylvia realized that she was stepping into a world unprepared for female engineers and scientists – and with that, she stepped into a world that she would change.