News From Masters

Group Promotes Women in Math, Science, Technology
Posted 09/22/2017 01:00PM

With the aim of celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and math fields, five Upper School students launched the Girls Interested in STEM Society (GISS) at Masters.

“I’m very interested in science, coding and technology,” says junior Emma Goodman, who initiated the idea to form GISS. “I felt there wasn’t a comfortable environment for girls to come together to celebrate women’s achievements in STEM, to learn more about it or to pursue a career in the field.”

Spearheading the group along with Emma are senior Miranda Luiz, junior Leena Khurana, junior Emma Luis and senior Elizabeth Mitchell. The students developed the plan for GISS during this past summer.

“Right now, there are a lot of girls at Masters who are interested in STEM but they’re not really pursuing it because it’s such a male-dominated field,” says Miranda, who plans to study astrophysics in college.

However, Miranda and Emma stressed that students don’t need to have a direct interest in STEM to participate in GISS or its activities. “It’s an advocacy group that covers the whole spectrum,” Miranda says. “It’s open to people who may not want to study STEM but think it’s cool and want to support women in STEM.”

The organizers plan to focus on sponsoring events throughout the school year, starting with a showing of the film Hidden Figures at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre in October. They also hope to arrange for women in STEM professions to visit the campus as guest speakers.

As part of the group’s launch, Miranda gave a thought-provoking speech at an Upper School Morning Meeting last week. 

“The startling gender imbalance in STEM fields … along with pre-existing stigmas, does profoundly impact the educational experience for women,” Miranda said during her talk.

“I am so grateful for all of the resources that Morris Hall and the rest of Masters have to offer, and am humbled by my classmates, inspiring teachers, and the incredible education at my fingertips,” she said. “I’m talking about this because it’s important for women to understand that they belong in the classroom, belong in the lab, belong in the field, and for men to understand that women belong here, too.”

The response to her speech and to the formation of GISS has been “phenomenal,” Miranda says. “We’ve gotten countless emails from boys, girls and faculty. Underclassmen have approached us in the hallway to thank us and tell us how eager they are to join." 

Meanwhile, several faculty members have offered to advise the group or to help out in other ways, according to Emma and Miranda.

Emma, who is interested in studying science research in college, says the GISS organizers are “excited to start this group. Hopefully, it will continue after we’ve left Masters.”

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