Gender stereotypes have long dictated many aspects of life, but such divides have led to more influence than whether one should play with Barbie dolls or monster trucks. A glimpse at statistics concerning men and women in science career fields yields an obvious discrepancy between the high percentage of males and the lower one for their female counterparts. However, the senior elective class called Scientist for Life at Buffalo Seminary strives to close this gap with its Girls 4 Science campaign, one tweet, post and flyer at a time.
“As a kid I was interested in science, and had a fossil collection and everything. But no one motivated me to become a scientist or go into the field,” said senior Maiah Overdorf, who plans to pursue psychology at college. “Maybe if there was a campaign like this one things would be different now.”
The spark for this campaign came from a guest speaker who is a female engineer from an area chemical plant, and an extensive list of statistics reflecting the lack of women pursuing science-based careers. The resulting discussion stimulated one resonating question: What can we, as a class, do to change this?
This question ignited a fire and the girls in the class cut to the root of the issue – the same issue the campaign hopes to target: a lack of encouragement and positive experiences to get young girls interested in science.
To provide this encouragement, the Scientist for Life class established its presence on several branches of social media, all of which converge at their main “headquarters” – a blog.
Did you know scientists are not just confined to the lab? Several other professions outside of lab research engage with the sciences, such as lawyers and graphic designers. Such information is shared on this blog in addition to messages empowering girls and various articles concerning past and present women in science; thus providing a steady stream of encouragement they hope will launch future women in science.
Inspiration and exposure are the base to the campaign, and the girls are confident of success.
Though the campaign targets young girls, the students behind it plan on pursuing various fields –not just those based in science. But that does not mean they are any less passionate about the cause than their classmates who plan to be veterinarians or chemists. The campaign also has become a conduit for lessons from other classes such as Media & Communications as well as an outlet for innate passion concerning the rights and inequality women face every day.
Senior Alexa Rosen concluded: “As an all-girls community, we all want to put our best attributes forward to make this campaign our best piece of work. So no, we don’t all want to be biochemists, but it’s taken our entire collective class to make this campaign the best it can, and it’s still in the first stages.”
Despite its fledgling status, the campaign already has grown past the borders of Buffalo Seminary thanks to the girls who pooled their talents in an impressive feat of teamwork. A visit to their classroom reveals just how smoothly they work together; simultaneously running their various social media platforms while designing new posters and brainstorming fresh ideas and appearances.
“I am inspired every day by the creativity, passion and dedication shown by the young women who created this campaign,” said their teacher, Joan Wienckowski. “I hope other young women find their cause inspiring, too.”
The Scientist for Life class currently consists of 16 seniors. However, the dream is to not let the campaign die after they graduate but to pass the torch to a new class.
“Our hope is the next Scientist for Life class will take heed of what we started. We want to involve future generations of Sem girls to keep the cause going,” senior Madeline Caywood said.
The campaign has no set end date, recognizing the complexity of the issue the seniors hope to tackle as well as the time required to remedy the problem.
“We will track its progress and go up from there,” Madeline said. “Hopefully it snowballs into something greater.”
But the road to greater status will be a long one, and paramount to their success is that their message is heard. Add your voice to the Girls 4 Science campaign by visiting http://girls4sci.wix.com/girls4sci, and find Girls 4 Science at the celebration of Women’s History Month next Thursday at the Central Library, Lafayette Square.
Maia Gallagher is a junior at Buffalo Seminary.