WiSTEM holds club week to raise money and awareness for Kenyan non-profit


Varsha Rammohan

Suman Mohanty (10) holds up a “STEM saves the world”t-shirt at the WiSTEM club week booth outside Manzanita. WiSTEM had speakers, a movie screening, and fundraisers for education for girls in Kenya during its club week.

by Varsha Rammohan, Copy Editor

Stacks of black shirts emblazoned with the words “STEM saves the world” surround boxes of cookies and boba tea at the WiSTEM club week table as several students crowd the array of goods, searching for something to enjoy after school.

Harker’s Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology club held its annual club week last week to support WISER International, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare and education to girls in rural Kenya.

For the past two years, WiSTEM has sponsored a girl named Hilary from Muhuru Bay, Kenya, and is paying for her tuition for all four years of high school.

“I think WISER is a really amazing cause that we are helping support since we are making tangible impacts in Hilary’s life. I think we do have a major gender gap problem in Silicon Valley, but when you look at some other countries, it’s even worse,” WiSTEM club member Suman Mohanty (10) said. “Some of these girls aren’t even able to go to school, and by selling these items, we’re trying to help some of them gain a solid education.”

Some of these girls aren’t even able to go to school, and by selling these items, we’re trying to help some of them gain a solid education.

— Suman Mohanty

Through the sponsorship of Hilary, WiSTEM’s members regularly send letters and have Skype sessions with the school in Kenya to check in on its students.

As a part of the club week, club advisor and upper school science department chair Anita Chetty invited plastic surgeon Dr. Prasad Kilaru to talk to interested students on Tuesday regarding his work in reconstructive surgery and medicine. On Wednesday after school, the club also held a movie screening of filmmaker Robin Hauser Reynolds’ “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap”, an in-depth documentary on the stories of women facing discrimination in the tech industry.

On Friday, WiSTEM members went to the Harker preschool to participate in Stem Buddies.

“Stem Buddies is basically where upper school high students go mentor younger ones in different science projects, from chemistry to biology to physiology,” said club president Aarzu Gupta (11). “It really creates a bond with our members and the younger students who are interested in science.

Next Wednesday during lunch, WiSTEM will be partnering with Harker Horizon to hold a panel for students. The panel will feature three female Harker alumni, one who is a freshman at Stanford and two who currently work at Google. They will be talking about their journey in navigating the workplace and will also answer any questions from the audience.

WiSTEM meets in Chetty’s room every other B day from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. In its meetings, club officers discuss articles and videos relating to gender issues in STEM and also hold occasional presentations and Q&As by WiSTEM members who are involved in science research outside of school.

WiSTEM’s main goal is to increase diversity within STEM, particularly making sure that women have an equal advantage as men in all these areas,” Aarzu said. “Many people think, ‘Girls can’t do this, but guys can do this so much better’ or in classes, ‘Guys are more confident to participate,’ and I think it’s important for people to know that everyone has an equal intellect, and girls can do so much.”

Upcoming events for WiSTEM include the annual Harker Symposium next April and another Stem Buddies at the lower school next semester.