At Lee’s Summit West, there are tons of STEM activities and classes for students to get involved in. Within these options, there are also stereotypes that push people away from them.
Gender inequalities and stereotypes have been apparent for thousands of years. Ever since then, in many areas of work, there have been different views on who best fits it. In STEM, it is seen by some people that males are more capable of hard work and in pressuring situations, while females are more capable of caring for and nurturing others.
“We’re in the 21st-century,” junior Lacey Bishop said, “We shouldn’t allow these stereotypes to steer you away from not taking classes.”
Bishop is involved in STEM classes at STA and has spent her whole high school career so far moving toward her goals. She has been on the PLTW pathway since her freshman year in the Principles of Biomedical Sciences program.
“I love learning about how the human body works,” Bishop said. “I think most people don’t understand all the stuff that goes into it.”
Bishop is currently taking Medical Innovations and Biomedical Interventions (MIBI) at STA. She has always wanted to go into the medical field and said that one day she may want to be a physician’s assistant, but is keeping her options open.
Bishop said that most of the work in her class is hands-on lab work, which she enjoys. She also said that there is more rigorous material, and it does take extra effort.
“I think anybody could do it with the right mindset and motivation,” Bishop said.
Another student at West who is involved in STEM classes is junior Kaitlyn Snyder. She is also enrolled in MIBI at STA and has taken the same classes as Bishop throughout high school.
“My passion is STEM,” Snyder said. “It’s going into science and becoming a doctor and being in the laboratory.”
Snyder said she wants to continue into the medical field after high school and said she might want to be an oncologist and study cancer. Before she started on the STEM pathway, she was aware of the stereotypes and unequal pay wages in the field.
These things did not affect Snyder taking the class, she said, “It did make me a little bit more disappointed, I guess going into it knowing that I’m already leading myself down that path to be paid less then men are.”
Snyder thinks that STA and West try to be as inclusive as possible, but it doesn’t always work. Both Bishop and Snyder said that the biomedical area of STEM is one of the most inclusive for all genders. Other sections, like engineering, have fewer females.
“In my class, it’s been more girls, which is surprising,” Snyder said. “But I know there are lots of other classes, most classes at STA, are mainly men.”
Snyder also said she believes that it is very important for both females and males to be a part of STEM. “There needs to be a good balance of men supporting men and women supporting women,” Snyder said.
Snyder said that STEM affects her life in many different ways. She said, “It’s just really made me a better person because it’s motivated me to do more and be more involved in the community.”
In their Human Body Systems class, they both had Greg Mathews as their teacher.
Mathews teaches Astronomy, Meteorology, Human Body Systems, and IB Biology 12 at Lee’s Summit West. He said he enjoys teaching STEM for many different reasons, and that, West does a great job of allowing students to take part in it.
“Science has always been where you can be wrong, but you’re still right,” Mathews said. “You can create a hypothesis, you can test something, it cannot be anything like what you thought it would be, but you learn from that.”
Bishop and Snyder are both female students at West who said they are following their dreams. Both Snyder and Bishop said they also have multiple friends who ignore stereotypes to achieve their goals.
Mathews said that he notices changes at West that females join these classes every year. He said he thinks it’s important for everyone to be involved in STEM.
“You need a good mixture, and you need a good diverse setting that represents the population of the world,” Mathews said. “So it is nice to see that there is diversity, at least at our school.”