Audrey Stoess, a senior at the University of Kentucky, is earning a degree in physics- a major where only 22% of physics degrees are held by women. After graduating from UK, Audrey plans to continue her research in astronomy which she started at the UK observatory last summer. Her research consists of measuring the light of stars and detecting unknown planets. In addition to her research, Audrey assisted the UK physics department in being accepted into a program through NASA.
Audrey’s passion for astronomy began when she was 8 years old, the moment her parents bought her a telescope. With the support of her parents, friends who are also involved in STEM fields and her physics II professor, Dr. Fatemi, Audrey has discovered the endless possibilities of getting a degree in physics. However, Audrey admits that she has found herself a victim of the Confidence Gap, as she finds herself being the only female in majority of her classes. Many times her opinions have been ignored and disregarded simply because she is a woman. This is why she advocates the importance of women pursuing careers in STEM, so that girls like herself have role models to be inspired by.
Nonetheless, Audrey feels that the negative stigma of women having careers in the STEM field is finally starting to move in the right direction. “People are starting to realize that women are just as smart as men,” says Audrey. She feels proud to be a woman when seeing news about women’s marches and women’s rights. Audrey wants any girl who is considering a career in STEM to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. “Follow your dreams and prove them wrong.”