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Victory for women in STEM

Christy Bishop, Staff Contributor

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For the first time in 55 years, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to a woman. Donna Strickland, Canadian optical physicist, shared the prize with physicists Arthur Ashkin and Gérard Mourou.

 

Strickland is also only the third woman to ever win this award. She and the other scientists are considered pioneers in laser technology for their work with high intensity, short optical pulses and creating “optical tweezers.”

 

While STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs have been integrating women, there is still a gap between the genders in these fields. This point is highlighted by a scientist at the esteemed CERN center, a nuclear research center in Geneva, saying that physics was a field built and created by men. The worker has since been suspended, and the announcement of Strickland’s win came the day after.

 

Along with Strickland’s victory is Frances Arnold, a chemist and engineer from Pittsburg, who became the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Both women shared the prize with men as well. Both women are ecstatic about their achievements and are glad that female scientists are receiving recognition.

 

Pleasant Valley High School graduate Lauren Nelson attends Marquette University and is pursuing a science-based career. Nelson said, “I’ve always enjoyed my science classes and I’ve had some amazing science teachers starting with my sixth grade teacher.” People have often been surprised when she told them she was majoring in biochemistry; an adult once told her she could always change her major.

 

At PV, the Women in STEM club is setting young, enthusiastic students up for scientific success. The club’s purpose is to allow students to see and interact with people in the community, especially females, who have jobs related to STEM fields. Speakers often come and offer insight and motivational words to the students.

 

With STEM fields beginning as male-dominated fields, the push for female involvement has been fairly recent. When Megan Bildner, a young teacher and one of the hosts of Women in STEM club, was in high school, she recalled a push for girls to become interested in science. However, some of her colleagues have told her that women in these types of jobs are rapidly growing.

 

The club also helps encourage girls to follow their passions regardless of difficulty. Bildner said, “Don’t let anyone tell you or make you feel that your ideas are worthless because you are female. You are smart and your experiences matter too.” She also stated the importance of engaging with the next generation. As Bildner stated, “Go out and serve to other young girls…you may be just the push they need to pursue their dreams.”  

 

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Victory for women in STEM