Girls Empowered by Math (GEM) aims to provide educational opportunities to foster a love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in young girls and build a close community of like-minded peers. Girls are encouraged to explore math-related careers as future pathways and confidently share their thoughts and ideas.
GEM is a student-led organization servicing the DMV area. We believe in the untapped potential of female students in STEM fields. We are dedicated to empowering young girls to pursue their love for mathematics. Working extensively with our parent non-profit organization, STEM for Her, and our student volunteers, we are able to host the GEM Hunt and GEM Paths programs.
Throughout high school, the founders of GEM challenged themselves to pursue their interest in math. They took the highest-level math courses offered and decided to challenge themselves further by competing in a local math competition. After realizing they were unfamiliar with competition math, they sought ways to improve their knowledge. They founded Girls Empowered by Math (GEM) to provide an engaging platform for girls interested in competition-based math.
In the years since then, however, we have realized that the biggest way we can tackle the gender disparity while giving back to our community is by focusing on introducing STEM opportunities to the girls who need it the most. Looking around, we see the progress that is being made in bridging the infamous STEM gender gap, but we know that there is always more that can be done at the grassroots level. That is why we are building our new GEM Paths program: to work directly with the students who might not otherwise be able to freely explore their interests in STEM.
- Work in low-income elementary schools to provide STEM opportunities
- Invite female math professionals to give lectures and workshops
- Promote unique math-related opportunities
- Provide opportunities to connect with like-minded peers and network
- Ha-Yeon Jeon: President
- Hanan Ali
- Aliza George
- Anna Huang
ONGOING PROGRAMS: GEM PATHS
We are currently holding our GEM Paths programs at two low-income elementary schools in Montgomery County: Arcola Elementary School and JoAnn Leleck Elementary School. We will be meeting six times over the course of the school year, October through March, with each month having a unique theme. Our six themes are Graphs, Weather, Probability, Physics, Space, and Geometry. Through a combination of fun science experiments and math lessons, our GEM Paths girls are able to get hands-on with STEM and discover for themselves how exciting it can be.
What people say:
Directly engaging girls in a variety of math-based career fields, led by leading female professionals.
The GEM Hunt is a fun and interactive scavenger hunt-style event that introduces girls in the DMV area to math-related careers. We invite female professionals to present about their education, career, and various math-related topics in their field. We also work with the professionals to develop unique challenge problems with real-world applications, which girls then team up to collaborate on and solve.
Why should I participate in the GEM Hunts?
- You will gain invaluable insight into various math-related career paths by hearing directly from leading women in unconventional careers. Check out our past GEM Hunts on the Events page to see who has spoken before!
- You will be able to apply your math knowledge to solve problems, just like the professionals do!
- You will have the chance to closely collaborate and make friends with girls from all around the DMV area with similar interests and talents.
How do I get involved?
- The GEM team is currently in the process of planning the first in-person GEM Hunt in three years!
- If you are interested in attending, please sign up on our Contact Us page so we can keep you updated about future events.
- If you are interested in presenting, please submit the form on our Contact Us page, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Bringing free and engaging STEM opportunities to girls in low-income areas.
Focused in Montgomery County, Maryland, GEM Paths aims to introduce the idea to young girls that STEM is both fun and possible. Throughout the school year, GEM members go to elementary schools with high FARMS (Free and Reduced Meal) rates to provide girls from grades 3-5 with extracurricular STEM opportunities. We connect classroom math concepts with engaging science experiments, as well as bringing in guest speakers to present about STEM careers.
Why is GEM Paths an important initiative?
- Although progress has been made, there are still gender-defined stereotypes in our society that can try to push girls into non-STEM directions. Providing STEM experiences to young girls can ignite their interest before those stereotypes take root!
- According to the Pew Research Center, women now make up 50% of those employed in STEM jobs, but they remain overrepresented in healthcare jobs and underrepresented in fields such as engineering, computer science, physical and life sciences, atmospheric and space sciences, and mathematics. We aim to show these girls that there are so many paths they have the potential to explore.
Virtual GEM Hunt 2021
Virtual GEM Hunt 2021 took place online (Zoom) and featured 6 unique speakers, bringing together more than a hundred girls from all over the country.
- Monica Vaughn-Cooke: Mechanical Engineering – Human Reliability: focuses on medical device design and the applications of human reliability tools in healthcare systems, where she includes factors from psychology and sociology in her risk assessment.
- Katrina Groth: Mechanical Engineering – System Safety: focuses on safety and reliability in complex engineering systems, including energy systems, power plants, pipelines, aircraft, defense, transportation, etc. She works to prevent, mitigate, and recover from system failures and accidents (eg. explosions, fires).
- NSA Speakers Bureau: Cybersecurity
- SunPower: Solar Power: an American company that develops and deploys solar power and energy storage to help people create better, cleaner, and more reliable energy right from the sun. It has been ranked as #1 in commercial solar since 2017, obtained over 1,000 for solar innovation
- Rochelle Tractenberg: Biostatistics focuses on variability, the essential feature of people, animals, cells, and systems – and the foundation of statistical analysis.
Virtual GEM Hunt 2020
Virtual GEM Hunt 2020 took place online (Zoom) and featured 6 unique speakers, bringing together more than a hundred girls from all over the country.
- Mary Bowden: Aerospace Engineering: professor at UMD Clark School of Engineering. She directs the high-altitude balloon payload program at UMD.
- Laura Matrajt: Infectious Disease Dynamics: researcher at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, focusing on utilizing statistical tools to create models of disease epidemiology.
- Sarah Grajdura: Civil & Environmental Engineering: civil engineering PhD candidate at UC Davis. Her research surrounds evacuation behavior modeling and equitable outcomes of natural disasters, specifically for wildfires. She also co-runs the mobility justice working group on campus.
- Lynn Kirabo: Human-Computer Interaction: PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She is part of the Transit, Bots and Disability lab, “TBD Lab”, where she is advised by Aaron Steinfeld. Her research includes Human-Computer Interaction, Accessibility, the Global South, Misinformation, and Ethics.
- NSA Speakers Bureau: Cryptography and Cryptanalysis: two female professionals from the National Security Agency
GEM Hunt 2019
- Dr. Abbe Herzig: Gerrymandering & Politics: Dr. Abbe Herzig is the Director of Education for the American Mathematical Society (AMS)
- Maram Alamsi: Accounting and Finance: Maram Alamsi is a budget officer for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Angel Wang: Accounting & Finance: Angel Wang is an auditor for the National Institute of Health (NIH).
- Dr. Trudy Padmore: Engineering: Dr. Trudy Padmore is a Chemical Engineer and a Lab Supervisor at MilliporeSigma.
- Cara Peters: Health Sciences: Cara Peters is a mathematics Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maryland.
- Sindy John: Health Sciences: Sindy John is a manager in Bioinformatics for MilliporeSigma.