Tanya Moore remembers being told by a high school teacher that she didn't belong in the advanced math class. Moore, 35, now has a PhD in biostatistics from UC Berkeley and wants to challenge the idea that "only some people can do math—usually white males." Her project, an Infinite Possibilities Conference, will support and encourage minority women and girls in mathematics by offering role models and mentors. "Math provides a framework to organize information and interpret data," says Moore, who is program manager for the City of Berkeley's Division of Public Health. "Even if you're not going to use geometry in your life's work, it gives you tools that are good for decision-making and critical thinking."
Jennifer Stimpson, a 36-year-old chemistry teacher from Dallas, calls herself a "new-millennium science nerd." Stimpson is developing a K–12 program called Get a KIC Out of Science (KIC stands for Knowledge in Chemistry). "It shows that everyday people use chemistry," she says. "Your pharmacist is a chemist, your neighborhood baker is a chemist, and your air conditioner guy has to have some knowledge of chemistry. KIC makes science relatable and tangible."
The trio bonded during the conference , and after a discussion on how celebrities always generate buzz for their causes, they joked about forming a mock girl group: Déborah as Shakira, Tanya as Alicia Keys, and Jennifer as Beyoncé. They're more than half serious (anyone in Hollywood reading? are we talking TV pilot?). "We're women, we're minorities, we're scientists, and we don't have that geeky look," says Stimpson, "so here's our message: You can be black, Hispanic, or Asian, you can wear Manolos, you can be fly, hip, and dynamic and be a scientist. When a 12-year-old thinks you're cool, that's like getting a million-dollar check."
Pictured above: Jennifer Stimpson (second from left), back home in Dallas, shows (from left) Phantasia Preston and Richia Campbell how to determine the number of calories in a peanut.