STEM Spotlight: Women in STEM


Sabrina Zhu

WiSTEM officers Kavita Murthy (12), Claire Luo (10), Ella Yee (10), Emily Zhou (12), Amiya Chokhawala (11), Catherine He (12), Thresia Vazhaeparambil (12) and Eileen Ma (11) hold a club meeting in the Nichols Atrium on Sept. 20. The club aims to encourage more female students to participate in STEM fields.

by Katelyn Zhao, Reporter

STEM Spotlight is a repeater exploring what clubs at Harker have been doing as they return to campus. This week’s featured club is WiSTEM, which aims to foster STEM interest in female students.

The Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club, currently led by Emily Zhou (12), Kavita Murthy (12), Natasha Matta (12), Catherine He (12), Eileen Ma (11), Amiya Chokhawala (11), and Arissa Huda (11) fosters interest in science, technology, engineering and math in young women. Upper school biology teacher and advisor, Anita Chetty. founded WiSTEM sixteen years ago. The club also seeks to raise awareness about the gender discrepancies in STEM and provide members with professional female role models for members.

Principally, our goal is to empower women to pursue opportunities in STEM just because, typically, women are encouraged away from STEM fields,” Catherine, WiSTEM’s marketing and publicity director, said. “Since we have such a strong base of women in STEM at Harker, we also want to rally the girls over here and boys, to empower girls that are not as privileged as we are.”

The main initiative supported by the club is STEM Buddies. Each year, WiSTEM members present their findings from exploration in a chosen field at the Research Symposium, an annual science fair for Harker students to showcase their work. The club also helps fund WiSER, an organization for girls interested in STEM education in rural Kenya. 

After having club meetings over Zoom last year, WiSTEM is finally transitioning back to in-person events. One of it’s largest outreach workshops, STEM Buddies, will be returning for lower and middle school students. 

“[It] is meant to increase their interest in STEM and build a foundation for them to pursue it. Last year, we had to do it all online, which is still fun, but I think going back in person will be much nicer to engage and talk with all the students,” Eileen, who is WiSTEM’s secretary, said.

WiSTEM especially emphasizes the importance of real life interactions in partnership between upper, middle and lower school students. Like most other clubs, this year’s focus will be on re-starting in-person activities and events.

According to Emily, who is WiSTEM’s outreach coordinator, the Symposium, STEM Buddies, Tech Girls, where upperclassmen club members can partner with underclassmen, and Wisters are all scheduled to be in person activities.

“[It’s] going to be easier in person making new friends as well. I guess [there’s] a big emphasis on creating a community after coming back from COVID,” Emily said.

However, the past year did not prohibit WiSTEM gaining new members and participation at their online events.  Rising sophomore club members Michelle Wei (10) and Claire Luo (10) also uncovered more about WiStem’s club mission after partaking in Tech Girls and STEM buddies.

“STEM is a field that’s dominated by males. And it was really cool to help girls from all around the world learn new things, to see the level of interest they have [in STEM] was really inspiring,” Claire said. For more information on upcoming meetings and events, follow WiSTEM’s instagram page @harkerwistem or visit their website.