The Warrior

GEMS Club partnership with Northwestern

Maggie+Ryan%2C+a+volunteer+of+the+American+Endometriosis+Foundation%2C+discussing+endometriosis+with+members+of+the+GEMS+Club.+According+to+Panek%2C+female+guest+speakers+come+once+a+month+during+meetings+to+promote+success+in+different+fields+of+STEM.+There+are+around+60-70+GEMS+Club+members%2C+also+known+as+Gemmies.+
Maggie Ryan, a volunteer of the American Endometriosis Foundation, discussing endometriosis with members of the GEMS Club. According to Panek, female guest speakers come once a month during meetings to promote success in different fields of STEM. There are around 60-70 GEMS Club members, also known as Gemmies.

Maggie Ryan, a volunteer of the American Endometriosis Foundation, discussing endometriosis with members of the GEMS Club. According to Panek, female guest speakers come once a month during meetings to promote success in different fields of STEM. There are around 60-70 GEMS Club members, also known as Gemmies.

Photo by Clarissa Corral

Photo by Clarissa Corral

Maggie Ryan, a volunteer of the American Endometriosis Foundation, discussing endometriosis with members of the GEMS Club. According to Panek, female guest speakers come once a month during meetings to promote success in different fields of STEM. There are around 60-70 GEMS Club members, also known as Gemmies.

By Clarissa Corral, Managing Editor

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Once a month, a group of girls interested in Science Technology Math and Science (STEM) meet to listen to female guest speakers who promote success in a male-dominated field.

Girls in Engineering Math and Science (GEMS) Club co-president Tifani Panek, Div. 873, contacted the Northwestern University Society of Women Engineers (SWE) during the summer of 2017 to organize a partnership with GEMS, called the Big Sister Program.

GEMS has opened up so many opportunities for me and that’s part of the reason why I started the Big Sister Program, to help Lane girls find their passion in STEM and go change the world,” Panek said.

SWE is a service organization “dedicated to promoting interest in and encouraging women to pursue the fields of science and engineering,” according to the SWE mission statement.

The organization was founded in 1976 and is made up of both male and female undergraduate and graduate students.

According to Panek, there are 60-70 general GEMS Club members, also known as Gemmies, but only around 30 girls or less will be selected to be paired with a Big Sister. The pairing will be based on who is most interested, since there are only 20-25 women in SWE.

The goal of the partnership is for the Big Sisters of SWE to lead short engineering workshops, as well as mentor and offer support to the Gemmies, according to Panek.

“Your Big Sister would be someone you can talk to and connect with about what it’s like to be a women minority pursuing a STEM career in male-dominated fields,” Panek said.

The Big Sister program will be separate from the general GEMS meetings, according to Panek. The Big Sisters will meet with their Gemmies once a month. Panek said she wants the partnership to be inclusive and more one-on-one.

According to GEMS Club member Claire Kuszynski, Div. 873, the partnership will allow her to get more insight from someone who is in close proximity to her age and who is in a field she in interested in.

“I’m hoping to get a little bit more mentorship because right now; I plan on majoring in chemistry but I don’t really know what I want to do with that,” Kuszynski said. “I want to kind of get their minds of what is it like being a student in science at a college level and just get more info and maybe get feedback on what I should possibly do.”

In addition to promoting STEM, Panek said she wants the Big Sisters to offer advice to the Gemmies about college or life in general.  

“You would be able to reach out to your big sister if you ever need help in school, need a role model, a friend, or just some help on homework,” Panek said. “For our juniors and seniors, the SWE could also offer college advice and an inside look of Northwestern and what a day in the life of a female engineering student looks like at Northwestern.”

Panek said she hopes the Big Sister program will launch in mid to late January 2018, as the details are still being finalized.

Hopefully I want all the Gemmies and the women engineers to get really close and I want them to develop a relationship and show them that this is what it looks like to be a woman pursuing STEM,” Panek said. “There’s actually a lot of women out there and I hope that the Gemmies are inspired to pursue STEM in college as well.”

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GEMS Club partnership with Northwestern