- This is Poly
Attending the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science at the UN “was a really significant day for girls and women,” said Tesvara Jiang ’23, “because everyone on the panel discussed the important reasons regarding why we need women in the labs or key government positions in order to fight climate change.”
“Females need a day to represent themselves and a day to focus on female scientists,” added Mary Lin ’24. “It’s important to hear perspectives from women in science because they might see the world differently through a different lens.”
High School students in New York and New Jersey were invited to the assembly at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan on February 10. The day recognizes the critical role women and girls play in science and promotes gender equity in STEM. Speakers included global dignitaries, ambassadors, scientists and researchers, corporate leaders, and NGO presidents.
Chair of Poly’s Computer and Information Science Department Jean Belford P’24 said, “The trip to the United Nations for the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly was an incredible opportunity for students at Poly, mostly girls, to participate in robust conversations around global sustainability and the related science, policy development, and diplomacy required to achieve shared goals.”
Poly participation, which was a collaboration between inFinite STEM, the Computer and Information Science Department, and the Science Department, was led by science teacher Jenna Peet and included Tesvara Jiang ’23, Brianna Kwan ’23, Penelope Elgort ’23, Marie Culmine ’23, Lilly Belford ’24, Alba Niccolai ’24, Jess Dosik ’24, Mary Lin ’24, Kyle Williams ’23, Alida Lissak ’23, and Maeve Igoe ’23.
The students had the opportunity to attend a full schedule of speakers.
“The UN International Girls’ Day is a significant day for girls and women because it provides women with a platform to advocate for equality, specifically on the issue of environmentalism,” said Lilly Belford ’24.
“… it makes me proud that women are taking the forefront in battling the biggest threat of the century: climate change.”
“One speaker that made a lasting impression on me,” said Tesvara Jiang, “was Dinesh Joshi, who was a chairman of the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India. He told us a lot of cool information about electrical vehicle development in India. According to his beliefs, although probably biased, India will lead the world in sustainable transportation within 15 years as a result of the contributions of women in science. It was interesting to find out from the speakers that they all notice a trend of women studying environmental/ sustainable engineering and it makes me proud that women are taking the forefront in battling the biggest threat of the century: climate change. I am also interested in studying this in college and it makes me feel comfortable to know that I will be working with many women.”
“One woman had a really great presentation on sustainable cities around the world,” said Kyle Williams, “and laid down a strong framework for cities to become carbon neutral.” Williams added, “To be honest, I feel like sustainability was the main focus of the panels and discussion of gender politics was secondary.”
“The Polish delegate, Maja Kiba-Janiak, definitely made an impact on my perspective,” said Mary Lin. “She clearly states that the underlying problem for sustainable development is that people have different expectations based on their residential locations, these government and private sectors have to make compromises.”
“I was really surprised,” said Tesvara Jiang, “to hear that the CEO of the Formula 1 Group,Stefano Domenicali, was in attendance at the UN conference. I am a big fan of Formula 1 and by attending this conference, its CEO proved that he is thoughtful about making sure women are welcome and respected.”
“Poly understands that representation matters,” said Jean Belford, “and we have been intentional in our efforts to offer historically underrepresented groups experiential learning opportunities in STEM. Last year, Poly launched inFInite STEM, a cohort of female-identifying students in Grades 6 – 12, who are interested in STEM; and this group has had the benefit of attending academic lectures with women scientists, trips to laboratories and engineering space, and, most recently, this trip to the UN.”
Lilly Belford was pleasantly surprised “by how young some of the women speakers looked, which made me optimistic about the possibility of women representatives in the future.”
“I hope that our students realize that whatever work they put into developing their own expertise is always valuable and insightful,” Peet said, “even if they decide to change careers or focuses later in life.”
Dr. Ramesh Laungani added, “At Poly, students in Science Research class, as well as other science classes, regularly engage with female STEM professionals, through virtual ‘scientist sessions’ and guest lectures. It is important that Poly students see the diverse array of female STEM role models that exist in the world so that they can envision their own future in STEM.”