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Representation in STEM: Rodríguez-Trías, Dr. Helen

A digital conduit for student-curated content presenting the contributions and challenges faced by underrepresented prominent figures in STEM. Physical banners were placed on display at Baldwin Wallace in spring 2022 with supporting programming scheduled.

Dr. Helen Rodríguez-Trías

Diversity in STEM fields is extremely important. It is known widely that every single person thinks in different ways. The way our brains work is not dependent on what race, ethnicity, or gender we are. Experience on the other hand is one of the main reasons for new inventions and scientific studies. Diverse backgrounds are extremely important to each and every unique experience that leads to new ideas. Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So, they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have” (Yoliem S. Miranda Alarcón). The idea of diverse experiences led to the important discoveries and the impacts that Helen Rodríguez-Trías has accomplished. Helen Rodríguez-Trías is a powerful public rights expert, women’s rights activist, and a pediatric doctor. Helen is a Puerto Rican that grew up in both Puerto Rico and New York. She has had experience of being isolated and discriminated against based on her ethnicity and gender and has learned from everything she has been through to put forth an effort to make change. When she completed high school in The United States, she returned to Puerto Rico for college. During her college years, she became greatly involved in movements and school-wide strikes that ended up getting her sent back to New York. She dealt with great failures but continued to push through as she went on with her education and career. Because of her endless efforts and not giving up, Rodríguez-Trías improved access to public health resources to women and children in Puerto Rico and The United States. She founded committees that ended sterilization abuse and for abortion rights. Because of previous thoughts on population control, it was common for Latino and Black women to become sterilized as a version of birth control in Puerto Rico. Rodríguez-Trías' goals were to provide women and children with rights that protected them against these common misconceptions and abuses. Medical injustices were a huge issue that Rodríguez-Trías has had to face, and she realized that even if she couldn’t single handedly change the world, she could at least hold those responsible to their accountability. In order to actually make a difference, medical professionals needed to be aware of the mistakes that they were making and needed to visualize the true effect. Rodríguez-Trías strived through her past problems and encounters and has made impactful benefits for women and children in our world today. It is important to highlight these diverse voices in the STEM environment, because without them, we would not have the experience that is needed for future. Because Helen Rodríguez-Trías continued to express her diverse past, she was able to outrun her difficulties and make light of her struggles, as well as women and children around the world. Dr. Rodríguez-Trías was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001 and will be honored with a statue in St. Mary’s Park (New York; in the Bronx) due to her motivation towards these campaigns.

Contributing BW student:

Cassidy Mrakuzic: Biology major, Business minor


External Resources:

Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

https://blogs.gwu.edu/himmelfarb/2021/09/22/dr-helen-rodriguez-trias-the-womens-health-advocate/

Why diversity in STEM is important | STEMed Labs