GEMS Club turns luck into learning


Ella Endres

Sara Berrada, freshman, looks at her cards during a game of Spoons

The GEMS Club, Girls Exploring Math and Science, had their Lucky to Be in GEMS St. Patrick’s-themed meeting on March 20, and though it only lasted 30 minutes, the activities produced an “awesome” sense of “community,“ Maura Whitaker, senior, GEMS president, said.

The club gathered in room 113 after school and began the meeting with a quick lesson about statistics. After finishing off a box of green cookies, the girls applied their knowledge of statistics by playing the card game Spoons, or as they played it, Highlighters.

“The quick lesson with a fun activity after is our usual format, but we also hold other large events,” Whitaker said.

GEMS offers opportunities for girls to learn more about math and science and relate it to activities with others who are interested in the same.

From Whitaker’s perspective, the main focus of the club is to “support girls interested in STEM topics” and create a “community” with “like-minded girls.” Because of Whitaker’s previous occurrences in which “[boys] would not listen or hear me or my ideas out,” she “knew that girls supporting each other was what [she] needed.”

Lindsay Kroll, math teacher, recounted how she experienced a similar situation in her life in which her field was dominated by men. “When I went to engineering school in college, they said that the ratio was 13:1 men to women in the school,” Kroll said.

At the college level, only 29% of the STEM workforce is female according to Prathi Seneviratne, economics professor at Carleton College. This is evident even at the high school level where our GEMS meeting had only seven participants, two of them being freshmen.

In Stephanie Cochran, biology teacher’s, opinion, “[The male dominance] still stems from traditions from the 1950s and even carried through to the 70s. My mom was the only woman in the community working a serious job when I was growing up. Nowadays, there are more women in college, using their education, and not having to rely on men.”

Though there is still that sense of “that’s how it’s always been,” through the women empowerment movement among other things, “there is a more unique female perspective in the world. …We see the changes now,” said Cochran.

With the help of the GEMS club, Whitaker, who became a board member her sophomore year, obtained “leadership skills…from fellow board members” who are “hoping to bring those skills into classes in high school.”

Anyone interested in joining the GEMS club or possibly being a board member can contact Maura Whitaker at [email protected].