Women in Science club hosts young women in STEM from neighboring communities

Gabby Kepnes, Staff Writer

After being one of three girls in her honors math class as a freshman, Janvi Kukreja (12) started the club Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) during her sophomore year as an initiative to support aspiring girls interested in science and engineering.

Every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m., WISE hosts meetings through HM 246  for girls interested in STEM.

The club first started as Saturday workshops for Middle School girls, but it wasn’t until Director of the Center of Community Actions and Value Dr. Jeremy Leeds reached out to Kukreja suggesting the possible opportunity of bringing the club to girls in the surrounding Bronx communities, Kukreja said.

“This club was made to encourage younger girls, more specifically middle division and elementary students to feel more confident in their STEM classes when they get to high school,” Kukreja said.

As a Middle Division mentor, Kukreja has encountered scenarios in which she sees doesn’t see the confidence MD girls should have.   

“One day, one of my mentees mentioned she qualified for the math team but didn’t want to do it because she was the only girl,” Kukreja said. “This [was] ridiculous because [the] cycle will just continue where there are no girls on the team, therefore they won’t feel supported.”

Isha Agarwal (11) believes that especially in this day in age, there’s a gender disparity for women in STEM, she said.

“I joined WISE because I wanted to help little girls in and outside of the school and to let them know there’s a place at HM for women in the STEM field,” Agarwal said.

Science has always been a favorite subject for Diana Shaari (11), she said.

“Since the science field is primarily dominated by males, I joined to help encourage girls who were interested at such a young age,” she said.

Before each meeting every week, Kukreja meets with K-5 Science Specialist Mrs. Katie Diaz to discuss and prepare the lesson for the upcoming session, Kukreja said.

Other members, like Shaari and Agarwal, help facilitate experiments during the meeting as well as help Kukreja lead the workshops.

WISE is a refreshing experience to see how the girls participating aren’t embarrassed by their interests nor do they try to hide them, Agarwal said.

Throughout clubs fair, many people mentioned to Kukreja how important they thought the issue that WISE works on was, Kukreja said.

“It’s never been an official club until this year,” she said.

WISE helps to stop these  crucial issues in life by encouraging the people from younger generations to never hide their passion, Kukreja said.