High school student Emily Koehne loves her STEM program at school so much that she has created a website dedicated to promoting the STEM field by interviewing women who have pursued inspiring and unique paths within it.
STEM is an acronym used for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Emily got the idea to post interviews when she took a trip to the Edison National Historic Park museum in New Jersey. The museum is a preservation of Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory. At the museum, she found videos dedicated to “the women behind Edison.” This got Emily thinking about the great careers in STEM that women have pursued, careers of which girls like herself are not aware.
“I knew that there were so many unique careers in the STEM field and that women who are accomplishing amazing things don’t get highlighted in the media,” Emily told Amy’s Smart Girls. That’s how she became inspired to create a space all about the exciting fields in STEM in which women have been successful.
“I think many girls don’t know about all the different fields in engineering,” Emily noted as an example. “I’ve already covered structural and I plan to do the other types as well. I have some cyber security interviews coming up that I’m super excited about because that’s a field that I feel is really opening up for girls.”
On whom she chooses to interview, Emily mentioned, “Basically, it’s a combination of who I can find and women that are very open and willing to help me. I have found so many tremendous women in that process.”
The idea to create the website came from Emily’s own desire to highlight that girls in STEM are not just “the quiet ones in the back,” while also displaying the cool things that women were achieving in their respective fields.
“I’ve been in a STEM program since my freshman year and have been exposed to these [STEM] classes that I wouldn’t be able to take otherwise,” Emily said. “I’ve already taken two computer programming classes, an engineering course in addition to a regular math/science rigorous curriculum. I was noticing that there weren’t a lot of girls really interested in the program and I asked myself why.”
Emily continued, saying, “I heard stories about people being made fun of for liking STEM. Then Marvel Studios had this competition for high school girls to make a video explaining a STEM topic and I really wanted to enter. So I 3D printed this purple doll so it would represent all girls of all backgrounds and I named her STEMily — which is where the name of the site came from.” Her website is in fact linked at STEMilyK.org.
For her project’s video, Emily, “… talked about the importance of women in STEM and how we need more.” Although she did not win the competition, the public speaking, video-making, and website she made showcasing her project inspired her to do more. She decided to use this experience as a foundation to build upon.
Now, Emily’s website contains both exciting interviews to come and many that have been already conducted. These include an interview with the Chair of Computer Science at Columbia University, an interview describing careers in Zoology for women, and a chat with IBM’s most prolific female inventor.
The advice Emily would like to impart to girls who feel intimidated by STEM would be, “You can’t be discouraged and that nothing that is worth it comes easily. I would tell them to persevere because we need you in the STEM field, we need your perspective, and it will be so worth it because it will open up so many doors in life and to new skills. Try something new and don’t care about what other people think or have to say about it. Take advantage of every STEM opportunity that comes your way, keep an open mind and just have fun! It is so interesting, so fascinating, and as a girl, you will feel so empowered to go into STEM and be able to share your experiences with others around you.”
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