11 April, 2024

Empowering Girls in STEM: A Week of Discovery with WinS

Women in STEM on an educational trip

In the dynamic realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), gender diversity and empowerment are vital for fostering innovation and progress. Over one week in March, the WinS (Women in STEM) initiative embarked on a series of impactful activities aimed at inspiring and empowering girls to pursue their passions in STEM fields. From the insightful guest speaker session to an immersive company tour, these activities provided invaluable opportunities for our members to learn, engage, and grow. Let's delve into the highlights of our transformative journey.

Guest Speaker Sharing

The week commenced with an inspiring guest speaker session on March 18, which drew an impressive turnout of nearly 30 attendees, including Dr. Swann, Mr. Burton, Dr. Liu and enthusiastic parents. As the founder of WinS, I had the honor of inviting Ms. Ladon Ghalili, a distinguished leader in the STEM community as the first speaker for our series of events. She has been living in Dalian for over 30 years. She's the co-founder of her company Epoch, the Northeast Chapter Chairperson at the American Chamber of Commerce in China as well as a proud parent of one of our alumni.

Her remarkable career journey, from a rare computer science majored female to the co-founder of Epoch International, left an indelible impression on our audience. Ms. Ladon's insights into her pioneering role as a female entrepreneur and her emphasis on the importance of gender balance in STEM underscored the pivotal role of women in realizing balance and innovation in STEM.

Ms. Ladon Ghalili showing a bird with two wings

In her speech, Ms. Ladon shared an insightful analogy: "The world of humanity has two wings - one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly." With some unique characteristics such as practicality, empathy, intuition, and receptiveness, women can excel as much as men in male-dominated field. One quote that resonates deeply with me is "Where there are no women there is a HOLE. We need Women to make it WHOLE."

Company Tour

Just four days later, WinS organized a field trip to Epoch on March 22 afternoon, marking another milestone in our quest for knowledge and empowerment. Despite unpredicted changes, the unwavering support and swift actions of Mr. Burton, Dr. Liu, and the Marketing Team ensured the seamless execution of this enriching experience. I thought it would be just an ordinary company tour, but thanks to Ms. Ladon's meticulous arrangements, it turned into an immersive exploration journey.

Ms. Ladon Ghalili in the Epoch company office

To our surprise, Epoch's warm reception and personalized tour itinerary exemplified their commitment to support WinS. From engaging discussions with seven accomplished women in STEM to firsthand glimpses of cutting-edge technologies, the tour offered invaluable insights into the dynamic world of high-tech design and electronics manufacturing.

Particularly heartening was the discovery of Epoch's whole floor employee-centric facilities, including dining room, dancing space, meditation room, a row of reclining chairs for resting, even an area for kids filled with toys, their paintings, and tents. We truly felt the company's caring for their employees and commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive company culture. It's a testament to their sustained success and innovation.

Inspiring Interviews

In addition to the guest speaker speech and company tour trip, I'm excited to share another initiative I've undertaken. I've had the privilege of conducting interviews with several individuals from various universities in the U.S. These individuals include professors and student leaders who spearhead Women in STEM organizations at their respective institutions. Their journeys and experiences have been incredibly inspiring, shedding light on the challenges and triumphs of women in STEM fields. I'm committed to continuing these interviews and amplifying the voices of women in the STEM community.

Women in STEM logo

As we reflect on the experiences and revelations of the past week, one thing is abundantly clear: the journey towards gender equality and empowerment in STEM is both inspiring and transformative. Through the collective efforts of our dedicated team and supportive community, WinS remains steadfast in its commitment to nurturing the next generation of female leaders in STEM. Together, we can build a world where every girl is empowered to pursue her dreams and contribute to the advancement of society.

Female STEM students visiting Epoch company

Visit to Epoch

In just a short time, the positive impact of WinS on the girls who have joined is evident. Through our programs and activities, we've witnessed firsthand the transformation and growth of our members. From gaining confidence in their abilities to pursuing STEM opportunities with enthusiasm, our girls are thriving. Here's what some of our members have to say about their experiences with WinS:

Letty Xu (G9): “When I saw the works developed and produced by female engineers, I felt particularly excited and proud. And it's not surprising at all; this is what I expected: Women have always been a powerful force in the field of science.”

Manufacturing zone at Epoch

Epoch manufacturing line

Lindy Jiang (G10): “Ms. Ladon engaged the audience in her presentation, creating an emotional connection to her experiences. It's essential to acknowledge the distinctive contributions women make to society and to ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive.”

Alisha Li (G9): “Ms. Ladon’s speech is truly inspiring. It made me contemplate the advancement of women's status and importance more deeply. It's heartening to see that modern society holds fewer prejudices against women. Just as Ms. Ladon quoted: males and females need to progress together for the eagle to truly soar. I hope we can also become the feathers that balance the flight.”

Motivating speech from Ms. Ladon Ghalili

Women in STEM Speech

Selina Lu (G9): “In this visit to Epoch Company, I not only toured the factory production line and saw a lot of advanced equipment and technology, which gave me a more intuitive understanding of the development of modern industry, but also felt the unique charm of corporate culture and team cohesion.”

Company tour

Epoch company tour

Cindy Gao (G11): “All the knowledge we have acquired may potentially contribute to our success at some point in the future, especially as we navigate through our college journey. However, the major we choose in college does not definitively determine our future career path. We have the freedom to explore more of our own possibilities.”

Future Events

Looking ahead, WinS is excited to announce a series of upcoming events aimed at furthering our mission of empowering women in STEM. We plan to expand our outreach efforts to elementary schools in Dalian, offering engaging STEM workshops to inspire young minds. Furthermore, we will organize more company field trips, providing our members with firsthand experiences of STEM applications in real-world settings. These visits will not only broaden their horizons but also inspire them to explore diverse career paths within STEM fields.

Additionally, we are committed to hosting more guest speaker sessions, not only for our members but also for parents, to raise awareness and support for women pursuing STEM education and careers. Moreover, we will continue the interview series, amplifying the voices of women in the STEM community. With these initiatives, WinS aims to continue making a positive impact and empowering the next generation of female leaders in STEM.

If you are a girl from Grade 9 to 12 and want to be part of this transformative experience, please reach out. Whether you're curious about STEM or already passionate about it, we welcome you with open arms. Join us and become part of a supportive community where your potential is nurtured and celebrated. Together, we can continue making a difference and shaping the future of STEM!

Ms. Ladon Ghalili

Ms. Ladon Ghalili

Special Recognition:

As a nascent student organization, WinS has garnered unwavering support from a diverse array of stakeholders including teachers, parents, and school leaders. Their encouragement and recognition have served as a catalyst for our endeavors to promote gender equality and empowerment in STEM education.

Text: Amanda Jiang
Editor, pictures: Svetlana Ulyakhina