Girls Advancing in STEM (GAINS), a student-run organization that originated at Greenwich Academy, has grown steadily since its inception in 2015, both at its originating school and at Pingree School. While Pingree's involvement dates back to the first conference held in Boston in 2015, the club officially began in the 2020–2021 academic year with Kelly Min ’23 taking the lead. In partnership with math teacher and club advisor Colleen Tlagae, the club has gone on to host Zoom sessions with scientists, network with other schools, attend conferences in California and North Carolina, and promoted the visibility of female-identifying students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
We checked in with Colleen recently to discuss the history of GAINS at Pingree and what has been her experience over the years.
- What are the most rewarding parts about participating in GAINS as a faculty member and as a student?
- The most rewarding part of participating as a faculty member is interacting with students who are so passionate about STEM fields and hearing about what they want to do in the future. The students in the club are very motivated to learn more about women in STEM and their accomplishments. Recently we have divided into small groups to do research and then present to the club during one of our meetings. The first one was about an Irish astrophysicist and her accomplishments. I think the students feel the club is rewarding because they get to connect with other female-identifying students who are passionate about STEM.
- What was something that surprised you about participating in GAINS?
- What surprised me about GAINS is the diversity of topics the students are interested in as well as in the sessions offered by the group. GAINS has run virtual meetings with different topics and featured speakers, and at the conference, there is also a wide variety of subjects for the tech talks.
- What is something people should know about GAINS?
- People should know that GAINS plays an important role in making female-identifying students feel like they belong in all of the STEM fields. This happens in many ways, from just connecting with each other to seeing women who have made successful careers in these fields. Although we continue to see more female participation in STEM many of the fields are still male-dominated.
- What motivated you to join GAINS?
- I was motivated to join GAINS to be able to help students picture their futures (either career or college degree) in a STEM field. I think the students benefit so much from just taking time to discuss women in STEM and being exposed to different individuals as well as sharing their own interests and future goals.