One of my favorite outreach exercises is "Draw a scientist." Most of the students draw an old, white man with a long beard. He's usually wearing a lab coat, mixing up colorful chemicals next to a bunsen burner. There are often explosions. Students, regardless of their own race or gender, rarely draw female scientists or scientists of color. Lots of children grow up viewing science as the domain of only certain groups of people. Our goal should be to have the students' drawings reflect the world as it is, diverse and multicultural.
As a woman in science, I appreciate the progress we have made in becoming a more diverse, inclusive field. But there are still countless examples of the ways people in STEM fields subtly (or overtly) exclude scientists based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. I think an important part of being a scientist is working to fix the systemic issues in our community that make anyone feel unwelcome or excluded. I have focused on science outreach education in elementary schools, as a way to both provide experiential science education in communities where it is needed and also to normalize the idea of women scientists for the students.
Currently I am the organizer and local founder of R-Ladies Los Angeles, a Women in Science group, focusing on improving gender inclusivity in the R community. Encouraging and retaining female scientists is vital for the future development of R, and integral for STEM disciplines in general.