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The Women Who Win

Since winning the Nobel Prize in Physics, Strickland says that she feels that more people in her community pay attention to her voice. Also, she now has seats on various government-led research organizations in Canada and the US, which she never had before.

The award has opened up opportunities for conveying to nonscientists what scientists do and why, something “I embrace,” Schleier-Smith says. These opportunities range from interviewing with National Public Radio to sitting on a career panel for high school students. “I love the fact that the MacArthur has led to invitations to speak to so many different audiences.”

“I’ve always believed tremendously in the value of visible role models,” Ghez says. Ghez makes herself visible by teaching introductory undergraduate classes, where, she says, she can shape the next generation’s ideas about who can be a scientist.

“As a woman of color, I have faced a myriad of challenges within and outside of science,” Nissanke says, adding that she uses the attention garnered from her prize to advocate for diversity in science. She says that, with more role models speaking up about racism and sexism in science and then promoting change from within, she hopes that people from all backgrounds—and not just privileged ones—will consider careers in physics or astronomy. “The night skies are for everyone,” she says.

UCLA Galactic Center Group

Andrea Ghez and her students analyze data from the Keck Observatory.

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