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6 Colorado women featured in exhibit at Smithsonian

The collection celebrates 120 contemporary women in STEM with life-sized, 3D-printed statues on the National Mall.

COLORADO, USA — For Women's History Month, we're introducing you to six amazing women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Colorado.

They are being featured in an exhibit that depicts them as life-size, 3D-printed statues.

Some of the women had the chance to see the models of themselves in person at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Jenny Briggs, assistant dean at the Colorado School of Mines, is one of them.

"I am trained as a fire scientist and forest biologist," Briggs said. "I got really interested because I had grown up loving animals and loving being outdoors and I was really worried about fires affecting animals and people and water.”

Credit: Jenny Briggs
Dr. Jenny Briggs and her family visit her 3D printed statue in Washington, D.C.

Briggs would describe herself as an "ordinary" person. However, not many "ordinary" people can say they have a life-sized duplicate of themselves displayed at the world's largest museum. 

"Some guys told me things like, 'You won't want your hair to get burned,' or 'women are at greater risk than men,'" she said. "So, I wanted to prove a lot of those male stereotypes wrong."

Her statue is part of an exhibit by the IF/THEN® initiative. Briggs got to see her likeness in person with her family. 

"Very weird, and cool, and strange, and little bit awkward," Briggs admitted. "Like, I know this person or entity but she looks pretty different in bright orange."

The collection features 120 statues of contemporary women doing amazing work in STEM.

Credit: IF/THEN®

"I joke that my orange doppelganger is the greeter at [The National Air and Space Museum] this month," said Dr. Nicole Sharp, another one of the scientists featured. "We exist. We're out here. We're doing work and that's worth celebrating."

Sharp is a science communicator with a background in aerospace engineering and fluid dynamics. She started her website, FYFD, 12 years ago.

"Most of the statues of women that you find are things like [Lady] Justice or Nike, the goddess of victory, or the Statue of Liberty," she said. "They're not actual women who lived."

This project aims to change that lack of representation, claiming to be the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled. 

"For me, it's astounding that little girls and little boys can go to an exhibit like this and find people who they can connect with," said Sharp.

Both Sharp and Briggs got a chance to see their statues in Washington D.C.

"There was a woman who was looking around at all of the statues and saying, 'I don't know who any of these people are, but I should!'" said Sharp. 

They both hope to continue to be a resource for young girls and boys to look up to. 

“I would tell all kids and girls in particular don’t let yourself get discouraged," said Briggs. "If you feel that spark and you hear that curious voice keep persisting, you can do amazing things.”

The exhibit will be on display in Smithsonian gardens and select Smithsonian museums until March 27th. 

“There’s never one way to reach the goal you want to reach," said Dr. Sharp. "Things may get in your way. You can find a way around them. You can end up on a path that feels different than where you want to be heading and you can chose to change the direction.”

There are four other women from Colorado who were chosen to be featured in the exhibit along with Sharp and Briggs. Click on the links below to learn more about them and even take a virtual tour of the exhibit when it was in Dallas.

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