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MIT Inspires Girls in S.T.E.M. Fields

McKenzie M, A&E Editor

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Women’s Initiative visited SJHHS to inspire our leading ladies to pursue fields in STEM.

On January 26, two female representatives from MIT, one Ph.D. student and one first year student, came to share their experience and interact with the future generation of STEM leaders.

STEM refers to a range of fields including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and has been dominated by males. As we face a new age of female influence in the world, many colleges and STEM companies are recruiting females to run their labs.

SJHHS’s stem representation is not much better. While the ratio of male teachers to female teachers in the science department is acceptable, the number of females in high-level sciences, including AP Physics II and AP Chemistry are statistically lacking. In the two-year history of the class, not a single female has opted to take AP Physics II.

There is not enough data or evidence to prove that females are being hindered or discourgaed from taking such courses at SJHHS, but it certainly could be a cultural issue in the world.

One of the attendees, sophomore Isabel Royal, was inspired from listening to the speakers share what life is like at MIT, specifically as a female in a STEM major.

Royal is interested in microgenetics, and she heard input from one of the speakers pursuing a major in microgenetics herself and shared a lot about her personal experience.

“That was really cool because you can see that [at MIT] there are a lot of opportunities for everyone in [the microbiology major] or in surrounding fields,” said Royal. “She gets a lot of hands on work and can really dive into it, even though she is only 19.”

When asked if the stereotype of being a female in STEM encouraged her or made her feel limited, Royal said, “I actually feel that in the past it did limit you because all the males didn’t think you were good enough. But they are really trying to end that stereotype and they told us in the meeting and it really encourages you because there are a lot more opportunities now.”

Royal said that she feels she can now reach for these opportunities that in some circumstances may even give her a better experience than if she were a male.

“[STEM fields] like me and I know there are going to be a lot more STEM jobs for females because almost every STEM company wants a female,” said Royal.

Although the meeting was geared towards female students, two male students joined, including senior Ryan DiCenzo.

DiCenzo has already applied to attend MIT in the fall and is still waiting to hear back. Because of his excitement, he heard that MIT was coming to speak at the school and said, “I yelled at my engineering teacher until he let me [attend].”

Despite the fact that the meeting was geared towards firing up females for careers in STEM, DiCenzo claims he attended to not only support his field of study at his potential school, but to empower women to discover STEM.

DiCenzo is very passionate about the opportunities that he gets at SJHHS that help him pursue his career. He also mentioned that there is a lack of females taking advantage of these opportunities, such as engineering classes, and encourages more to.

“The Engineering ROP class is really cool, it’s kind of like a creative playground for us,” said DiCenzo. “We are learning how to use CADS and other industry tools that if you are pursuing a field in STEM, is what you will be using in a professional workplace.”

The MIT representatives encouraged the female listeners to start taking classes, such as these, in high school to discover their interests and start embracing their passions.

With 3-D printers, CNC routers, and other unique, high-end tools, SJHHS STEM classes let students explore with these devices. DiCenzo said that he has had a lot of free-range in his class and has even built a rockwall.

STEM is about being creative scientifically and creating and learning new things; what many people don’t realize is that the field of STEM values greatly from the influence of both genders, which it currently lacks.

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