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The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

Empowering Young Women in Science: Vu and Baccari Pave Future For New

Alex Haseltine
Girls in S.T.E.M member diligently focuses on the egg in beaker, studying it’s effects. Girls in S.T.E.M put an emphasis on empower girls that want to pursue a career in the S.T.E.M field.

Throughout the course of history, women have always been placed inferior to men, limiting their role and influence in a society rooted by patriarchy. Although society has reformed its archaic traditions from the past, women still face arduous challenges simply because of their gender today. For women in STEM careers, gender inequality is a common demon, lurking in the shadows of their career journeys and often leaves feelings of self-doubt and low confidence planted in their minds.  Having been active in the world of STEM for so long, AP Physics 1 teacher and Girls In STEM sponsor Tina Vu has faced multiple frustrating occurrences of misogyny in her career that had her questioning her capability in her academic performance. 

“There are several incidents that happen – even to this day,” said Vu. “Some examples are not receiving the same level of respect from administration and peers, assuming that I am an assistant versus lead personnel, questioning if I deserve to be an AP Physics teacher, and belittling my thoughts and ideas.” 

For Vu, science has always been a field of great interest, and passion that she carries from childhood. Most people often face a lot of ambivalent emotions and questioning with what they would like to do in their futures, but Vu knew from the 4th grade that she belonged in a STEM career. She is excited by the curiosity, how there is always something out there to discover and experiment with. But when she continued her studies in Physics at college, she felt overwhelmed by the extreme prejudice in her classes, specifically how women were treated to a higher standard of judgment than the male students. After witnessing this continuous gender bias throughout her education and career, Vu feels it is necessary to educate people about how much their behavior can affect the minds and opinions of others. 

“In high school, you don’t really see it much (except for the numbers of male to female in AP Physics), but once you get to college, it can be very overwhelming,” said Vu. “A lot of the time, some people are unaware that they are being gender-biased. It is super important to make people more aware. Females  need to stick together to lift each other up. Stay focused on your goal and prove those guys wrong. You can look beautiful by being kind and working hard, therefore the byproduct will be success.” 

Vu encourages young women interested in STEM to pursue their dreams, and not be easily discouraged by the aforementioned adversities. To promote this message, Vu sponsors Girls In Stem, an organization that is committed to ending the gender gap in STEM. Vu and the officer team plan events catered to young girls to plant seeds of curiosity so more girls feel determined to perform in these careers. Vu hopes she can be a source of motivation and influence for her female students, similar to how Vu received overwhelming support from her high school science teachers to pursue a career in Physics. She believes it is important to develop these mentor relationships with students to create a safe space for them to learn, grow and develop their passions into a successful career. 

“As a teacher, my favorite part is connecting with my students,” said Vu. “When students are able to put it together themselves, I can see them thinking in their heads and having a moment to themselves of “Oh, I get it!” I like to see my classroom as a fun and safe environment with the byproduct of knowledge.” 

Vu hopes her efforts will result in more women pushing towards STEM and that they will not be in vain. She hopes that her class and Girls In STEM will motivate girls to persevere in their journeys, and not be hindered by the opinions of others. Similarly, AP Biology teacher and Biology Olympiad sponsor Eva Baccari aims to be a figure of motivation for her female students. She acknowledges STEM is a road abundant with challenges, but hopes her class shows the beauty of science, and inspires students to study it in college. 

“STEM can be daunting at times, but it is essential to embrace the challenge,” said Baccari.”The end result will always be worth it.” 

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Baneen Rizvi
Baneen Rizvi, Editor in Chief The Nest
Learn more about this story's writer, Baneen Rizvi.

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