By Lupe Fisch
As a very STEM-oriented high-school student in the early 80s, I remember being the only girl in my Advanced Chemistry and Calculus classes. I was fortunate to have supportive male teachers and classmates, but I lacked models of women with my interests and passions until I got to college. Although the tech field is still challenged in some sectors by outdated stereotypes of what girls and women can and cannot do, our students have more opportunities and more access to STEM programs and jobs.
Last year, thanks to our connection with Wyn Pottinger-Levy at The Center School, we were invited to participate in several excursions organized by IGNITE Worldwide, an organization with expanding international reach whose mission includes creating “opportunities to spark girls’ excitement about technology careers.” Half a dozen of our students joined other schools visiting Nordstrom and ExtraHop, a company that specializes in enterprise cyber analytics.
At both sites, our students heard from panels of professional women at each company and got to experience a little of each organization’s culture. IGNITE offers other opportunities, including interactive workshops and job shadowing, which our self-identifying female and non-binary students can access as juniors and seniors. It’s exciting that our students can see themselves reflected in a diversity of fields as they start to glimpse and craft their own futures.
Students were excited to have this opportunity to meet and interact with positive STEM role models.. In the days and weeks following our visits to Nordstrom and ExtraHop, you could hear the enthusiasm in the hallways and classrooms as our students shared their experiences and considered the impact that women are making in the STEM world. We are so lucky to have partnered with IGNITE Worldwide, and we look forward to many more future collaborations!