Gender in Pweeks

MacKenzie Guynn I’m sure we have all been told at one time or another about the lack of powerful women in the world, especially in the STEM fields. But to be completely honest, I never fully understood how the lack of women in STEM, specifically Computer Science, applied to Latin. I have taken three semesters of Computer Science and have always been in classes that are almost equally representative of both genders. Further, there is a large interest in Girls Who Code and more and more girls seem to be getting involved everyday. It is only until recently that I realized there is still an issue about branching out at Latin. This year, the in-town project weeks offer many STEM options. You could build and program an LED wall, learn about FinTech in Chicago, or discover Soft Computing. But you could also go to several yoga classes to gain mindfulness, make mosaics, or sew. Once assignments were released, it became painfully obvious that the STEM projects were filled with boys while girls dominated the more artistic projects. In the FinTech project, for example, there are two girls and 13 boys, and in the LED wall building project there is only one girl and there are 13 boys. On the flipside, in the mosaics and sewing projects, there are no boys at all. Mr. Mahoney, one of the coordinators of Project Week, explained to me that the system for placing students in projects is based largely off of their rankings. Out-of-Towns are then checked for gender balance for logistical purposes. In-towns, however, are mainly left alone. Because in towns don’t get regulated for gender representation, it’s clear that there are simply far more boys signing up for the STEM in-towns than there are girls. This is a harsh reality. I think we pride ourselves on being an inclusive and supporting community at Latin, and yet there is such blatant evidence of a lasting connection between genders and fields of interest. This norm could still exist for a number of reasons; perhaps girls are scared of not being welcomed, of not being good enough. There is no pre-requisite for any of these projects, but the fact that they don’t know how to code may be what’s holding them back. I don’t know if there is anything we, as individuals, can explicitly do to change this trend, however, I hope girls continue to develop their confidence and ability to fail. Realizing that it is okay to branch out and try something new, especially in a field that is full of discovery and amazing inventions, just might lead more girls to realize that they have just as much to offer and are just as important as their male counterparts in STEM. ]]>