Jamie Horowitz, a senior at the Wheatley School, said she noticed how few girls went into science and technology compared with boys after visiting colleges in June.
When she came back to her community, she said she decided she needed to do something.
On Nov. 30, Horowitz hosted a panel with a range of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The women were as diverse as the fields they represented
Horowitz said she wanted to have a panel that showed various aspects of the fields. The panelists included Elizabeth Giradi Schoen, vice president of environment and sustainability for Teva Pharmaceuticals, Laurie Cantileno-Lillis, service delivery executive for Cisco, Jeannie Guglielmo, clinical associate professor in the clinical laboratory sciences program at Stony Brook University, and Noelle Cutter, co-primary investigator for a National Science Foundation MRI grant at Molloy College.
During the panel, the women shared their achievements as well as challenges they faced as women in the workforce, according to a news release.
Horowitz said the event went really well.
“I learned so much from the speakers as the moderator and I already knew some stuff about them, ” Horowitz said. “I looked around and everyone seemed to be nodding their head and engaged.”
Horowitz is in her fourth year of the four-year engineering program, and said she’s looking to continue down that path as she enters college.
Horowitz said she initially decided to start the optional engineering program in ninth grade from a recommendation by her eighth-grade technology teacher.
“My teacher pulled me aside and said you’re doing really well and seem like [you] have a knack for it,” Horowitz said.
The key to getting more women involved in STEM is to reach them when they’re young, Horowitz said.
East Williston schools are doing just that. The Willets Road School, for grades five through seven, opened its Innovation Lab on Tuesday. Ed Kemnitzer, director of technology, innovation and information services, said one of the goals of the lab is to help keep girls interested in coding.
Starting early allows girls to be exposed to more areas of STEM and increase their opportunities, Horowitz said.
“I know a lot of people who go into it at a college level and take on some coding,” Horowitz said. “But the earlier you start the more you can fail at it and find which aspects of it you want to go into and what makes you happy.”