Girls in STEM

robotthumbnailST. JOHNSBURY- The St. Johnsbury Academy's robotics team FRC-2523 is growing in size, mainly within the school's female student population.


Jim Baker, the STEM educator is excited to have more girls join the team, "this is the highest percentage of girls I've had on a team yet. I have 7 girls out of 17 students that are on my team right now."

Katherine Wang, a junior international student at the Academy says she transferred from a school in California so she could be a part of the robotics program at the Academy. "A major reason I came here is because I heard about the programs we are doing here. Right after I came here, I went to Mr. Baker and asked if I could join."

Sophomore Willow Hartwell joined after taking a STEM class her freshman year, "I took an intro to robotics class and I saw videos of the robot they had made last year, and I really wanted to be on the team, but it was too late. So as soon as I could sign up this year I did."

The girls on the team feel strongly about their experiences and how they feel about being girls in the STEM field. Wang says that she learns things in STEM that she wouldn't be able to learn in her every day classes and that she takes notice of how many girls are at competitions. "When I go to a competition, you can tell from the overall that there are so many boys. Much more than there are the number of girls." But, Wang is proud of her ability to break down stereotypes "I feel proud, to be a girl who can do something that people wouldn't really think in their first instinct that girls would do this kind of thing." Because according to Wang, girls are capable of participating in science and engineering.

Hartwell believes that girls need more recognition for the work they do in the field, "I feel like girls don't get enough credit. I've been working hard for the past two years to get really into STEM. With my intro to robotics class and over the summer I went to a Girls in STEM summer camp at Vermont Tech." Hartwell thinks there needs to be more women in the STEM field and hopes one day to go to college to pursue STEM by studying engineering.

And it's not just the girls who believe their presence in STEM is important. Senior William Dimas says seeing the growth in numbers of girls joining the club is incredible. "It's crazy to see how many more girls are coming onto the team because in the past we had none and now suddenly there all getting interested."

Dimas believes girls being in the club helps takes away from what society believes girls are supposed to do. "It's nice to see that shift from the social stigmas of 'oh, this is a men's game' because it's not, it's a person who likes to do things game. I think my favorite thing is that people are starting to figure that out and doing what they want to do and not what society thinks they should do."

Baker says the program he's trying to build, and the FIRST Robotics Competition company are helping break those barriers, "girls are just as capable as boys in anything STEM related. And it's unfortunate that there's a lot of bias that is still in the STEM field."

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