The commemoration of Women’s History Month has started early at the Smithsonian. Last Friday, the institution unveiled a historical exhibit at the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, D.C.
The exhibit will be on view through March 27 and is considered “the largest collection” of statues of women ever assembled, the museum explained in a press release.
“#IfThenSheCan brings unmissable 3D-printed statues of women working in STEM fields to our National Mall, examples to young women and girls of how far their dreams can carry them,” tweeted Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch on Friday. “These statues make visible the groundbreakers and mentors there to help make dreams into realities.”
Among the pioneering women honored in the exhibit are Jessica Esquivel, one of only 150 black women with a doctorate in physics in the United States, and Karina Popovich, a college student who, with a 3D printer, made more than 82,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, TODAY said.
IF/THEN® is a Lyda Hill Philanthropies initiative designed to activate a culture change among young women to open their eyes to STEM careers. From tagging sharks, searching for extraterrestrial life, fighting superbugs, to choreographing robots, these STEM innovators were selected through a rigorous process with a commitment to inspire the next generation.
Similarly, each statue carries a QR code that visitors can scan with their phones to learn more about the woman depicted.
Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, told TODAY that the project was especially important for girls and young women to see.
“When our families and our kids are walking around looking at the people that are held up as role models, they’re not seeing anyone that looks like them, and we knew we wanted to fix that problem,” she said.
“We are calling this exhibit the ‘If Then She Can’ exhibit because we know that if we show little girls all these amazing women doing all this amazing work in this world that each of them will know that they too can grow up and they too can change the world,” Small concluded.