Karlie Kloss Mixes Fashion and Tech at SpaceX
The top model and It girl wants to use her influence to get more young women into STEM fields.
SpaceX is good at designing and manufacturing the rockets and spacecrafts that may help us one day live on a different planet. It is also very good at being the setting for a fashion shoot.
The Wall Street Journal Magazine recently sent supermodel Karlie Kloss to the Hawthorne, California location to shoot the cover of their December/January issue. Kloss, whose earnings are estimated to be around $5 million, has gained notoriety of late not for being a model or a member of Taylor Swift’s girl gang, but for her pivot toward a career in technology.
Kloss tells the Wall Street Journal Magazine that while she plans on continuing to model, she has been “craving a new challenge” and wants to use her “platform” to influence girls to enter STEM related jobs.
“I want to be doing my day job for a very long time,” says Kloss to the WSJM. “But I also want to grow businesses and make a meaningful impact.”
Her shoot is documented on her YouTube channel, Klossy, which while it certainly could be the right platform to inspire viewers to enter into the rocket-manufacturing businesses, doesn’t actually get into any of the technology being produced at SpaceX.
Although her YouTube series so far seems underutilized when it comes to getting young women into tech, Kloss is definitely doing her part to get girls the opportunity to learn to code. This spring, Kloss launched the scholarship #KodeWithKarlie, which gave 21 young women free tuition to summer coding courses at Manhattan’s Flatiron College Academy — the same classes that she enrolled in last year.
“Similar to dance and fashion, coding is a form of self-expression,” says Kloss in a video explaining her decision to learn to code. “It’s a way to turn a cool innovative idea into a product, website, app, tool, or experience.”
Kloss’ visibility in tech shouldn’t be under-appreciated — the U.S. Department of Commerce credits a lack of female role models as a major factor that contributes to the discrepancy of women and men in STEM jobs. While the gap slowly narrows, there still a disproportionate number of women in these jobs — as of 2011, just 24 percent of the STEM workforce consisted of women.
“Jump-starting girls interest in STEM subjects,” reads a memo from the Executive Office of the President, “and giving greater prominence to strong role models is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”
Kloss’ scholarship has been praised as a way to get ahead in tech and become a bit more like the supermodel. But it’s unfair to young women, and Kloss, to say they’ll want to code just so they can be more like a celebrity. It seems fair to say that Kloss would be the first to praise coding and tech as a means to fulfill one’s curiosity and creative impulses — things you do to satisfy your brain, not to feel closer to glamor.
The next time we see Kloss at SpaceX, I hope it’s when she’s handing over the blueprints to a new rocket.