Pingree students reflect on the 2016 GAINS Conference
Juniors Alexis Lynch, Victoria Howard, Izzy Davidson, Kajsa Kirby, and senior Prashasti Upadhyay recently attended the GAINS (Girls Advancing in STEM) Leadership Conference at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill with Science Teacher Mary Harbist.
The GAINS network is a community of girls and women with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math. The annual conference gives young women the chance to connect with and learn from female leaders from STEM-related universities, labs, companies, and organizations around the world. Students got the chance to tour facilities, network with fellow attendees, and hear from prominent scientists like Dr. Valerie Ashby, Dean of Duke's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and UNC Chancellor Dr. Carol Folt.
The group reflected on their experience at a panel discussion in May.
"Attending the conference and hearing from these women made a career in science seem less daunting," shared Upadhyay. "It's easy to assume that everyone in these fields is a natural genius and there's a fear that you're not going to be good enough. But the speakers helped us realize that there is no traditional path, and everyone struggles."
"It made my goals feel more within reach," echoed Howard. "I realized there were so many different paths to take with chemistry, besides becoming a doctor."
Davidson commented on how there were noticeably more boys than girls in her AP Physics class, and how encouraging it felt to meet women working in the field.
"It was inspiring to be around people who felt so much passion for their work," she explained. "It made me think, I want to be like that one day."
One of the highlights for Lynch was learning more about the intersection between art and science.
"I met a woman working in Robotics who explained to me that building her product was only part of the equation," she said. "To get that product on the market, her team would also need designers, and marketers."
As she explained in recent New Columns article, Lynch is interested in combining her passions for art and science with graphic design and animation. It was exciting for her to meet contacts that could help turn her dream into a reality.