All-girls club pushes past STEM stereotypes


Danielle Kosover, News Editor

After hearing from female speakers about their experiences in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) last week, club members were set to address their own teachers in an open panel about education.
“The speakers discussed ways to make classrooms more inviting to girls,” said Kristen Perkins, Northwestern and Evanston coordinator. “The students then had the opportunity to direct their ideas to teachers, creating an open conversation about improving the future.”
Key speaker Dr. Paola Sapienza, an Economics teacher at Northwestern and ETHS parent, spoke about how to change the male-dominated culture of the classroom.
Later that week, an Evanstonian mother-daughter duo presented on Paige & Paxton, their brand of preschool and kindergarten programs whose mission is to make STEM education easily available to young children.

“The presentations validated everything that I and other girls in WiSTEM had noticed in our classes,” said Caitlin Westerfield, senior copresident, along with Lucy Sattler. “We learned, for example, that girls appreciate computer programming more when classroom posters relate to solving problems, like tracking a virus, rather than posters about video games.”
Beyond WiSTEM week, the club has initiated a hands-on approach to further female education.
“We implemented design challenges to make the club more relevant and prepare students for these fields,” said Perkins.
This change came from last year’s members’ request to physically work with materials, an idea set to improve their engineering abilities. According to research, building bridges and designing airports may not appeal to women as much as they do to men.
“Problems that resonate more with women are those that have a broader social impact, something with social relevance,” said Perkins.