|TAM O'SHAUGHNESSY |
Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy is cofounder and Chair of the Board of Directors of Sally Ride Science. Tam has been interested in science since she was a little girl. One of her favorite childhood memories is of watching tadpoles in a creek gradually sprout legs, go green, and turn into frogs. Tam grew up in California and was active in junior tennis. She went on to play on the women's professional tennis circuit from 1971 to 1974. During her tennis career, she was ranked as high as No. 52 in the world in women’s singles and as high as No. 3 in the U.S. in women’s doubles. After retiring from tennis, she was the founding publisher of the Women’s Tennis Association newsletter for several years before going to college to study biology. Tam earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology from Georgia State University. While teaching high school and college biology, she became interested in how people learn and went on to earn her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of California, Riverside. Tam has extensive experience cultivating girls' and boys' interest in reading, math, and science. Besides being a former science teacher, she is a professor emeritus of school psychology and an award-winning children's science writer. Tam has written 12 children’s science books, including six with Dr. Sally Ride. Sally and Tam’s clear and eloquent writing style earned them many accolades, including the American Institute of Physics Children’s Science Writing Award.
As a scientist and educator, Tam became deeply concerned about the underrepresentation of women in science and technical professions. Research shows that young girls like science and have the same aptitude for it as boys. But as they enter adolescence, more girls than boys drift away from science, in part because of negative stereotypes and lack of role models. In 2001, Sally, Tam, and three like–minded friends—Karen Flammer, Terry McEntee, and Alann Lopes—founded Sally Ride Science with the goal of narrowing the gender gap in science. Their strategy was to create innovative programs and books to keep girls engaged and allow them to envision themselves as scientists and engineers. Sally Ride Science gradually broadened its focus. Today the company strives to spark the interest of all students—girls and boys of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds—in STEM education and careers.
Before becoming Chair of the Board of Directors, Tam served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Content at Sally Ride Science, overseeing all of the company’s science content and products incorporating that content. Tam remains strongly committed to science education and to the importance of science literacy for all students.