The Women in STEM Club: an advocate for female representation in STEM


via @lahs.wistem

Hyperfine CEO Maria Sainz visited WiSTEM club members on Monday, January 30 to talk about her experiences in the medical equipment manufacturing field. She is one of many speakers the club has hosted in recent months.

Despite making up almost half of the United States’ workforce, women are severely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math related fields. Across the country, girls are told regularly by their teachers and parents to stray away from STEM careers as they decide what to study in college. They tell those girls that they won’t be viewed with the same respect as their male peers, and that they won’t be nearly as successful. 

“But women are often underestimated in their abilities,” Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club co-President senior Maya Yung said.

The Los Altos High School WiSTEM club is aiming to change this discouraging mentality. Instead of telling girls that they have no chance in such male-dominated fields, the club helps them make connections with others in their STEM-related areas of interest. Although everyone is welcome, the club makes an extra effort to provide support to girls, because even at LAHS, they are often outnumbered by their male peers in their STEM classes. In other words, a lack of representation stretches all the way back to the high school campus.

“My AP Computer Science class has like four girls, and everyone else is a guy,” Maya said.

WiSTEM also provides its members with opportunities to talk to speakers, many of whom are women who have experienced gender-based obstacles in their workplaces firsthand. These speakers cover a broad range of careers and are all at different points in their educational journeys. Many are college students, some are PhD students, and most are working women.

On Monday, January 30, the club hosted Maria Sainz, President and CEO of Hyperfine, a medical equipment manufacturing company. Weeks prior, technology executive Kirithga Reddy and technical writer Kavita Nayar made appearances.  

“I really enjoy hearing from successful role models,” sophomore Axelle Allanic said.

The club also offers a mentorship program with prestigious colleges such as Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles. Club members have the opportunity to talk to college students who are currently planning on going into STEM fields. WiSTEM deliberately pairs members up with mentors who have similar STEM-related passions.

“Getting to know people who have similar interests as you is really uplifting,” WiSTEM club co-President senior Victoria Yu said.

When the club isn’t hosting speaker events or carrying out its mentorship program, members participate in fun activities to deepen their connections with each other. These include building marshmallow structures, making paper rockets, decorating cupcakes, and even STEM-related bingo activities.

The club encourages everyone interested in STEM to join, even if they aren’t planning on pursuing a STEM career in college. 

“Nobody should feel intimidated to join!” Axelle said.

WiSTEM meets in Room 713 every Monday. For more information about upcoming events, visit @lahs.wistem on Instagram.