With the percentage of women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields still below 50%, the need for strong and visible role models remains a top priority. Three members of the Curry College Women in STEM Club are doing their part in providing equal educational opportunities in the classroom, encouraging girls to be confident in pursuing a career in STEM.
Arielle Gilliam ‘24, Hailey Gonsalves ‘23, and Sarah Corbin ’24 recently ran a hands-on workshop for a Women in STEM conference for girls grades four through eight. The conference, held at Weymouth High School, is run by the American Association of University Women.
The three Curry students led an educational workshop about proteins and amino acids with interactive sessions backed by encouragement, confidence, and knowledge. The workshop was titled “Protein Bracelets,” which taught the participants about the basic structures of amino acids and proteins through modeling. “The overall experience was very empowering,” said Gonsalves, a double-major in Forensic Science and Biology. “Throughout the sessions, the girls asked questions about the activity, what we college students learn, and what they want to do when they grow up. Just knowing that we could’ve inspired even just one person that day was very rewarding.”
For Gilliam, who studies Biochemistry at Curry, being a strong role model for young girls in STEM is paramount. “I think it’s crucial for girls to see themselves in the shoes of other women that have pioneered through past stereotypes and struggles to become who they are today,” she said. “It felt rewarding to inspire these girls to seek a future career in science as they move forward in their schooling while believing they can do anything.”
Dr. Jessica Fry and Dr. Stephanie Walker of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics accompanied the trio to the conference, providing support, guidance, and encouragement to their students-an approach that was recognized and mimicked by Gilliam, Gonsalves, and Corbin.
“Having a support system during the workshop was so important for us,” said Gonsalves. “The science professors at Curry inspire me daily, so having these two with us served as a reminder that I can be an inspiration to others, too.”
And while the young girls left the workshops feeling empowered, energized, and educated, the Curry students left with pride and gratitude. “It was amazing to see these girls so inspired by all the workshops they attended that day,” said Corbin, a double-major in Forensic Science and Biochemistry. “I felt a sense of pride to see all the young girls encouraged to be involved in STEM. It felt as though we could be what inspires someone to believe that they can do anything.”