How My Mother’s Love of Cookies Made STEM a Core Piece of My Life

The ubiquity of STEM at every stage of my development had a major impact on my desire to become an engineer


My mother is, first and foremost, a rock star when it comes to baking chocolate chip cookies.

She is also an environmental engineer with degrees in math and engineering. But her saving the planet isn’t the part I remember most when I was six. Today, when the buttery aroma of warm cocoa and vanilla fill my parents’ home, the scent puts me firmly inside a memory of our yellow Formica countertop, standing bare-footed on a chair in my pajamas, Mom inviting me into her world of chemistry: solid to liquid butter, dry measure versus wet measure, the transition of baking soda into carbon dioxide gas to make the cookies rise. Those days spent together in the kitchen had little to do with engineering the perfect cookie but everything to do with creating fond memories and shaping a young STEM Gem.

STEM is everywhere. From a young age, my parents championed this principle. Illustrating the ubiquity of STEM at every stage of my development had a major impact on my desire to become an engineer. With my mother, I measured ingredients to my favorite recipes and calculated discounts at holiday sales on my favorite toys. From her, I learned about ratios, proportions, percents, fractions, and so many other applications to math—without even knowing it. My father, an electrical engineer and computer guru, introduced me to the internet and its applications years before it became mainstream. When joined with exceptional teachers throughout my education, the trifecta of inspiration was a powerful motivating force.



Stephanie Espy is the author of STEM Gems. A chemical engineer and graduate of MIT, UC Berkeley, and Emory University, she tells the stories of 44 inspiring women in STEM to show girls and young women around the world a new set of women heroes to look up to.

Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing and leading.