Latinas in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields make up only about four percent and electrical engineer Katya Echazarreta is among those making a difference. She made history as the first Mexican-born woman to go into space in 2022 and now she’s being recognized by Mattel with her very own Barbie doll. Women make up less than one-third of the STEM workforce and studies have found that girls are steered away from STEM throughout their education. In an effort to counteract that, Barbie released a collection of Barbies inspired by women across the globe making strides in STEM. Echazarreta, who is also a science show host, joins sisters YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, 23andME CEO Anne Wojcicki, and Pediatrics Professor Janet Wojcicki all based in the U.S.; Additionally, Space Science and Educator Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock (United Kingdom), Marine researcher Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius (Germany), and Li Yinuo, co-founder of ETU Education from China.
“It’s incredible to be honored by Mattel along with so many other intelligent and awe-inspiring women in STEM for Women’s History Day. Representation is an extremely important foundation when young women and girls begin to explore the endless possibilities of their future, and I hope that my doll will encourage girls that they belong in any career they set their mind to. Science is not just for the boys!,” Echazaretta tells HipLatina.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Echazarreta, moved to the U.S. with her family when she was seven years old. She was selected from a pool of 7000 applicants by nonprofit organization Space for Humanity to participate in the June 4, 2022 flight of the Blue Origin as an ambassador. Her foray into STEM began at San Diego City College where she studied electrical engineering for three years until she transferred to UCLA and earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering. She worked on five NASA missions and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
“I am very proud to be recognized by Barbie as a reference of inspiration for thousands of girls and boys in Latin America. I believe it is difficult to imagine doing things you have never seen and it is enriching to continue empowering children through real examples,” she added. “I hope that, as Barbie has done for over 60 years, children will believe in themselves and continue to break down barriers and stereotypes thanks to our example. With self-love, perseverance, and enthusiasm, everything is possible. You can step on the Earth, float in Space and bounce on the Moon.”