Paving a Path for Women in STEM

Rita Bayraktar

A computer science major within the College of Arts & Sciences at Carolina, Rida Bayraktar ’23 has been advocating to level the playing field for women in STEM for years. 

“Before high school, I had the stereotype that STEM was something boys do,” said Bayraktar. “I don’t fit into that profile, so I didn’t even explore any STEM fields. I was good at math, but I didn’t know what I could do with that.”

Upon this realization, Bayraktar became determined to include girls in the STEM conversation and eventually founded Pink STREAM, an organization that works to educate, motivate, empower and inspire kindergarten through eighth-grade girls in science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and math. Over the past two years, Bayraktar and her team have led courses for more than 900 girls on STEM-related topics, thanks to hard work and financial support from the Carolina community and the Robert E. Bryan Fellowship

Even with the limitations of the pandemic, Bayraktar is able to continue inspiring and educating young girls through an online platform.

“What I aim to accomplish as a woman in computer sciences is to be a role model, especially for marginalized women,” Bayraktar said. “We need to change people’s ideas of what it looks like to be a computer scientist, and I want to be someone that does that.

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