#DressForSTEM This Thursday: Wearing Purple on Pi Day to Celebrate Women in STEM

All it took was a Facebook group of 700 female meteorologists who planned to wear the same purple dress on Pi Day, garnering viral attention.

Trinity Alicia/The 74

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Every year in March, the contributions women have made throughout American history as part of Women’s History Month are commemorated in living color. 

But there’s another annual observance this month dedicated specifically to celebrating women working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers — while also acknowledging there’s still a long way to go. 

#DressForSTEM began as a grassroots movement in 2016, started by a group of female meteorologists to celebrate female STEM pioneers, those active in the field and the next generation of female scientists on March 14.

March 14 marks Pi Day, a celebration of the mathematical symbol pi. Founded in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw, March 14 was selected because the numerical date represents the first three digits of pi (3.14) — and also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday.  

It wasn’t until 2009 that Pi Day became an official holiday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation. But almost 40 years after Pi Day was born, women in STEM and their allies are asking for more diversity in the field.

All it took was a Facebook group of about 700 female meteorologists who planned to wear the same purple dress on Pi Day in 2016 and 2017, garnering viral attention as well as the opportunity to drive the Pi Day conversation to the underrepresentation of women in STEM.

While MIT reported that the gender gap in STEM careers remains significant, with women accounting for only 28% of the field in 2023, Edutopia reported that female visibility in the field is increasing, with nearly 58% of young girls drawing a picture of a scientist who looks like them in 2016 — when #DressForSTEM was launched — compared to 1% when the study was first conducted in the 1960s. 

Today, in 2024, #DressForSTEM still stands: Those who participate in the initiative wear purple and create social media posts with the hashtag #DressForSTEM on March 14.

We’ve chosen to go a step further and celebrate by presenting photographic proof of the ongoing contributions women have made to STEM.

February 21, 2020: Olay Body Celebrates 60 years of skin care science with an all female body wash product development team by investing $100,000 in the next generation of women in STEM fields at P&G Mason Business Center. (Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Olay Body)
January 31, 1978: First women to be named by NASA as astronaut candidates, (L-R) Rhea Seddon, Anna L Fisher, Judith Resnik, Shannon Lucid, Sally Ride, and Kathryn Sullivan at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. (Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
June 8, 2023: Alejandra Jimenez, age 13, left, and Jalen Telles, age 13, right, take pH and temperature water samples during a Marine Protected Area Science Cruise on World Ocean Day in Newport Beach, California, through a partnership with Crystal Cove Conservancy. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
September 26, 2023: Southern University and A&M College students perform science experiments in a chemistry lab course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Naville J. Oubre III/Southern University and A&M College via Getty Images)
October 9, 2006: Jouana Domingez, left, and Norma Galan, right, remove stems and debris from freshly harvested Pinot Noir grapes on a conveyor belt and into a crusher at the Byron Vineyard and Winery in Santa Maria, California. Cooler weather earlier this year delayed the ripening of grapes at many Central Coast vineyards. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
May 25, 2022: Capitol City Robotics students Zahra Merchant, 10, left, Madeline Karrer, 12, second from left, Ila Zakrajsek, 12, third from left, and her sister Zaly Zakrajsek, 10, right, work on a new computer in the basement of team coach Ryan Daza’s family home in Washington, D.C. (Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
November 19, 1968: A pharmacology student is preparing medicine in a laboratory. (H. Armstrong Roberts/Classicstock/Getty Images)
May 6, 2016: Lockheed Martin Orion Spacecraft software engineer Danielle Richey works with Stuart middle school student Kayla Burby on a group design challenge to build a Orion splashdown recovery system at the Society of Women Engineers’ Girls Exploring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) event at the Colorado Convention Center.
May 27, 2014: President Barack Obama looks at the cancer research project of Elena Simon, New York, NY, during the 2014 White House Science Fair at the White House, Washington D.C. (Aude Guerrucci/WHITE HOUSE POOL (ISP POOL IMAGES)/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images)
January 31, 2024: Tawhida Chowdhury, 16, left, and Emily Kim, 17, both juniors, look at the non-Newtonian fluid they created at Warren Mott High School in Warren, Michigan. (Nic Antaya/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today