Artist paining portrait of Katherine Johnson

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Pioneering the STEMinist Corner

Eka, founder of Akhalsopeli Girl Up Club, shares how she used her Girl Up STEM Grant to create a successful hub for STEMinists in the Republic of Georgia.

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In 2020, the Akhalsopeli Girl Up Club conducted research on the number of girls who study STEM in our region of Kvareli, Georgia. We found that over the last 10 years, only 10 girls chose to study STEM at the university/college level within our community: three in science fields; five in technology, one in engineering, and one in mathematics. 

In my community, there are many stigmas surrounding the potential of girls and their skills in technical subjects. Often, they do not have an environment that encourages them to believe in themselves and pursue careers in STEM. To motivate more girls to study in these fields, we used the STEM Grant we received from Girl Up to create the “STEMinist Corner.” 

What exactly is the STEMinist Corner?

Designed to transform an underused space in our school into a hub for female STEM exploration, the STEMinist Corner provides 5th to 11th-grade girls with a space to gather STEM educational resources, discuss and dismantle gender stereotypes, and join a community of like-minded students who want to investigate their interests in STEM. 

Our first project centered around increasing visibility of prominent women in STEM within our school.

Due to COVID-19, the activities we could carry out in the beginning through the STEMinist Corner were limited. Fortunately, we did not give up and continued to carry out our big plans. Our first project centered around increasing the visibility of prominent women in STEM within our school. We hired a painter, bought art supplies, printed pictures, and painted our school walls with portraits of remarkable women in STEM, such as computer programmer Ada Lovelace and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. We did this in the hopes to show students that women too can make important and significant contributions to STEM. As pioneers in STEM, these women broke down barriers throughout their lifetimes.  We believe their life experiences can inspire students to pursue a career in STEM.

Artist painting portrait of computer programmer Ada Lovelace on Eka’s school walls as part of a STEMinist Corner initiative to raise awareness about pioneering women in STEM.

Next, we had a virtual webinar with guest speaker Shorena Karalashvili, a geography teacher who also carries out ecological activities for social good. We discussed the myths and stereotypes we see in our region, the professional challenges women often face, and ways to deal with those challenges to help make STEM more equal in our region. Talking to Shorena Karalashvili was so inspirational because it helped us see ways to combine our interests and skills for future STEM careers. Something memorable she told us was to believe in ourselves, be strong and confident, and never lose the will to achieve our dreams.

We also went to the Experimentorium Science Museum in Tbilisiwhere, where we discovered so many things about physics, chemistry, and science in general as we explored the different exhibits. This field trip encouraged the girls to be curious about the ways STEM can change the world and to see themselves as STEMinists. 

In the future, we are planning to participate in a training course at Tech Park to show girls how to make robots. With the STEMinist Corner, we want to give students the opportunity to study programming, do fascinating chemistry experiments, conduct various research, and show everyone that girls and boys are equally capable of doing anything.

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