Women in STEM: It’s More Than a Club


Sarah Patel, Editor-in-Chief

Today, women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, especially engineering, physical sciences, and computing. Social bias, sexism in the workplace, stereotypes, and a lack of role models contribute to this gap

Junior club members making a poster for movie night

A club at LFHS, Women in STEM aims to tackle this gap and encourage girls to explore content in STEM areas. From guest speakers, lessons, hands-on opportunities, and outreach activities, Women in STEM builds the confidence female students need to consider STEM in both high school and beyond.

“Being open to exploration is the spirit of our club,” Mrs. Nicole Frye, Women in STEM advisor and precalculus teacher, said. 

The club meets the first and third Wednesday of every month, but there is no such thing as a “typical meeting,” Frye said, as the scheduling is tailored to the interests of the students. 

Though the club has run for almost two years, the only activity that has repeated is female guest speakers, each bringing a unique perspective. Their first speaker, a physician well-into her field, shared that it was challenging to take maternity leave in the midst of medical school. 

“I really enjoy the guest speakers and hearing how STEM is incorporated into their real-life job,” junior Emily Updike said. 

Many of the guest speakers did not have a conventional career plan, and almost “stumbled into”  STEM,” Mrs. Andrea Lemke, Women in STEM advisor and calculus teacher, said. 

“Sometimes the idea, especially with our school, is that you have to know the exact path of your life at 16 years old,” Lemke said. “But things change, and it’s an important message for our students to hear.” 

Club President Kate Johnson building a da Vinci bridge with senior Sophia Spooner

The club also fosters a safe, positive environment for hands-on learning that enables girls to step out of their comfort zones. 

“Girls should join Women in STEM because it provides a supportive environment in which young women can pursue their interests in STEM fields and collaborate,” junior Club President Kate Johnson said. “While these areas of study are increasingly opening up to women, it is still a male-dominated field.”  

Hands-on activities like building da Vinci bridges and spherification of water are intimidating but teach girls life lessons that extend beyond chemistry equations and mathematical principles. 

“When things are just falling apart, this is a metaphor for being able to try things and learn and not beat yourself up after lack of immediate success,” Lemke said. 

Most activities are small-group oriented, where students share what they discover and build off of each other’s ideas. The lack of a grade, Lemke said, also relieves some of the pressure. 

While students may be able to relate a lab about the DNA of a strawberry to a past biology class, exposure to various STEM activities empowers underclassmen to consider new courses. 

However, the heart of the club, Lemke said, is about female representation. 

“If you walk into a class and there are a bunch of students who do not look like you, whatever that may mean, that can be discouraging,” she said. 

In fact, club founders Nika Belova, ‘20, and Meghan Joshi, ‘21, approached Lemke and Frye because they were the only female students in their advanced computer science class. 

The torch has been passed to Johnson, who coordinates activities and reaches out to guest speakers, and Updike who runs the Instagram account. 

“With the club being student-led, it is inspiring to see other high-school students share their passions in interests and areas that have not always been popular for women,” senior member Rachel Pogany said.