Women in STEM: A Community Where Women Can Bloom


Charley Sarmiento

Meet the leadership team! The leaders introduce themselves and the club to both new and returning members at the first meeting. They discussed their first topic of astronomy and what the future holds for the club.

Charley Sarmiento, Editor-in-Chief

Traveling down the West Hall corridors of South Forsyth on a crisp Thursday morning, a relatively new, budding Women in STEM club held its very first meeting in Room 489.

At said meeting, the leadership team introduced the club, discussed the subject of astronomy, played games, and took attendance. 

It looked like a regular, run-of-the-mill club meeting, not a life-changing event. But if the students of Women in STEM have anything to say about it, their futures will look dramatically different only because they were in the room.

Over the past few decades, women’s roles in the workforce–specifically in STEM careers–have significantly grown. With this new outlook on workplace gender norms has come increased opportunities for young girls to forge their own paths in fields previously only traveled by men. 

South’s corner of the world hosts one of 67 total chapters of Women in STEM, and one of only three chapters in the whole state of Georgia. Running the show is club president Shreya Dhara, sponsor and Science Department Chair Kelsey Fusco, and the club’s leadership team.

Are you interested in joining but missed the meeting? Let me catch you up. 

Career Goals, Club Goals

“Our main goal is to expose people to as many career[s] and interests in STEM as possible,” Dhara said. 

Throughout the year, the officers will provide members with various opportunities related to STEM, including being able to listen to guest speakers who have been brought in to discuss topics of interest. For example, the club has future plans to bring in a guest speaker to talk about artificial intelligence, due to a large amount of interest shown in this topic in the past. 

“We sent out a form for new members a while back and we got a lot of feedback about what people actually want to learn,” Dhara stated. “We’re trying to target the topics people want to learn about because they don’t get access to learn about [topics of interest] in class.” 

Each monthly meeting will cover a different topic related to the STEM fields. During the first meeting, the club focused on the topic of astronomy. In doing so, they reviewed concepts such as what dark matter is, its importance, and historical women in STEM figures such as Vera Rubin.

Rubin, also known as the “mother of dark matter,” contributed work that had been essential to the very discovery of this groundbreaking advancement, as well as evidence that confirmed dark matter does indeed exist. 

A Path to Mentorship

To help guide these aspiring young adults in the fields of STEM, the Women in STEM club is giving members the opportunity to participate in their Mentorship Program. President Dhara is currently working on this project in collaboration with the larger, overarching Women in STEM organization. 

In this program, the club hopes to pair up current members who are interested in participating with a mentor from the “network of women who are in professional or are graduate students in STEM from a wide variety of fields.”

“I feel it’s really important to have someone that you can just talk to and ask questions about as we learn and grow, because a lot of the times, it can be really confusing,” Dhara said. “A lot of us still don’t know what we want to do in the future, and so I want to help people get access to that as much as possible.” 

This mentorship program, as well as the club as a whole, fights against a common obstacle faced by women pursuing STEM-based careers, which is a lack of guidance and mentorship. Just as how athletes may depend on a coach or parent to guide them, or actors rely on directors to point them in the right direction, people aspiring to enter a specific field of work–STEM based or not–may find the transition easier if they have a support system to help them grow.

Necessary Advice

Laura Bender, STEM and Engineering and Technology teacher at South, graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. 

Bender said, “I wish [as a graduate] I would have known more about what the different branches of engineering were. When I got to Tech, I didn’t know the difference between mechanical and electrical and civil.”

Bender didn’t have a club or program such as Women in STEM to help guide and educate her in the fields which interested her. “I ended up changing my major twice just because I didn’t really know what I was doing or getting myself into,” she said.

A Better Future

Gender disparities continue to exist, and the effects of centuries of sexism remain. Women of today are being told everything is good because it is better than what it was back then, but it doesn’t necessarily mean everything is as good as it can be.

Dhara said it best when asked what this club and its work means to her. 

“My mom has always been super influential for me as a woman in STEM, and I feel like it’s really important to find a community and find a place where you can feel confident and explore [your passions],” Dhara said. “A lot of times when you first start out at something, you’re not going to be good at it right away, but feeling confident and feeling safe in the community is really important to me. So that’s what I hope Women in STEM will be for other people.”

Helping women to grow and find an interest to pursue is just the beginning of what organizations such as Women in STEM can do for directing young women on the path to success and gender equality. 

Organizations in support of Women in STEM by Charlene Joy Sarmiento