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Junior Janya Johnson is the founder of the Women in STEM Club. “STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I just hope that more girls can get into this type of career field,” Johnson said.
According to the United States Census Bureau, women only make up 27% of the STEM workforce as of 2019.
Johnson collaborated with science teacher Jessie Michael-Lane to create the club.
“Women belong in all of the places where men are,” Michael-Lane said via email. “However, historically, we haven’t been allowed, especially in STEM fields.”
Michael-Lane has experienced gender bias within the STEM field, making the creation of this club close to her heart.
“People usually assume I am an elementary school teacher when I tell them what I do for a living,” Michael-Lane said via email. Michael-Lane stressed that while there is “absolutely nothing wrong” with that profession, it is an incorrect assumption and is therefore indicative of bias.
Michael-Lane said people often comment on her job saying, “Oh wow, chemistry is hard.”
“It is hard,” Michael-Lane agreed. “However, do we automatically respond to men with, ‘Oh wow, being a lawyer is hard.’ Maybe we do, but it is something that always makes me think twice.”
“It is essential to our future that young women understand they are just as smart as young men. Women should be encouraged to be curious about the worlds around them, and we should support them excelling in STEM classes,” Michael-Lane said.
Johnson’s motivation for starting the club is due to her future career.
“I want to be an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN),” Johnson said. “I want to help pregnant people.”
The process to create the club was not easy, but Johnson was determined to make it a reality.
“I talked to Coach (Sean) Wright, and he thought it was a good idea, so he gave me a form for the signatures. I got all of the signatures, and then I lost the sheet, so I got the signatures again,” Johnson said. “Then I made a presentation, a STEM presentation, showing what the club was about and my goals. I presented it at student council, and they all voted for it. Ms. Michael-Lane, my sponsor, I talked to her to set up the club times and specified what works for us, and we started the club.”
Johnson and Michael-Lane both have high hopes for the impact of the club.
“I hope that more women and girls are motivated to go into these careers and not be hesitant because it’s more male dominated in these areas,” Johnson said.
“We hope to support young women in their interest and pursuit of STEM classes and careers. In the future, it would be awesome if we could even start working with kids in middle or elementary school to help ignite their interest,” Michael-Lane said.
The club meets every other Thursday in room 382. Those interested in joining can reach out via the club’s Instagram account, @wghswomeninstem, speak to Johnson or Michael-Lane, or simply show up to a meeting.
Featured Graphic shows STEM club members making magnetic slime at the Women in STEM Club meeting on Friday, March 24. Photo by Maren DeMargel
Maren DeMargel – Podcast Editor
This will be Maren DeMargel’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.