By Emily – 3rd year student
When you’re a student at a small, liberal arts University like Quest, academic clubs play a large role in your development as a student. Here, we have the unique opportunity to build strong relationships with our professors (tutors) and have them play an active role in our academic clubs.
My friend Nina, myself, and Katy grinding up clary sage for steam distillation in the Quest labs.
A club that is close to my heart is our *femme in STEM club that has been brought back to our community by two STEM babes, Lexis Kepler and Cameron Friend. With the emergence of this club came femme in STEM workshops organized by Quest’s faculty fellow Emma Davy. Emma is an Inorganic Chemist, but teaches many courses at Quest including Solar Power, Introductory Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry. Emma received a grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry to facilitate a femme in STEM workshop for Quest faculty and students. With the new semester coming up, both club leaders and faculty members are excited to facilitate more of these great empowering events.
I had a chance to sit down with the one of the club’s leaders, Lexis Kepler (class of 2019) to ask her a few questions about what the *femme in STEM club means to her.
Q: What is your question and how does it relate to STEM fields?
Lexi: My question is Why do we sleep and you dream?, which allows me to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms involved in these processes and biological function. My question is definitely centered in the life sciences but it pulls from multiple disciplines like neuroscience, physiology, and psychology.
Q: What is your definition of *femme?
Lexi: We are constantly working on our definition of femme. *Femme is meant to be inclusive to all those who identify as women or with femme culture. However, we are passionate about our club being open to those who identify as non-binary as well.
Q: What motivated you to start this club?
Lexi: Another student approached me about possibly co-leading the *Femmes in STEM club. Right away I was excited about running the club because after I developed my Question in my second year there wasn’t this type of club. I was really excited to create a supported space for *femmes with similar academic interests as me.
Q: What is your vision for the club?
Lexi: I think the club creates a platform for people to share interesting articles and podcasts relating to their field of interest. I’d really like to see more of this activity in the future. I’m currently working with Emma to organize another STEM related workshop for the spring semester. The previous workshop went over really well and I believe that future workshops would be super beneficial for the STEM community. Other than that I just want the club to be a supportive group for *femmes in STEM at Quest.
Q: Do you have any advice for prospective *femme students?
Lexi: Don’t be afraid to go and get what you want! There is a lot of opportunity here at Quest, but you have to take initiative.
A break down of the disparity of women enrolled in different STEM fields vs men (taken from a 2011/12 survey). The graphic above does not include statistics regarding the presence of trans/non binary folk in these fields.
As a young women entering STEM fields, the statistics expressed in the graphic are well known. Therefore, having a club that fosters support and empowerment of women is something I am quite grateful for. I feel that through the workshop facilitated by Emma and events organized by the club’s leaders I am better prepared to enter the field post-graduation. Further, I have appreciated my experience with STEM at Quest because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program. This has better shaped my learning and shaped my community in fostering a safe environment for all to engage in academia.