“Knowledge is Power”

SpaceX visits Garfield.

The first of its kind at Garfield, a luncheon last Monday the 16th featured a presentation by two women from SpaceX who talked about their experiences in the STEM field. Hosted by Garfield’s own Girls Who Code and Women in Technology clubs, the event lasted through lunch and fifth period with an attendance of about 40 students.

The two clubs collaborated to organize not only with the hope of recruiting new members, but ultimately to reach out to and inspire girls who have interest in the STEM field. With computer science and other STEM related fields on the rise, they hoped that the event would educate girls about opportunities in STEM and encourage them to explore further. The event was made possible through a partnership with the organization IGNITE, which aims to inspire girls to become future leaders in technology and innovation.

The lunch event kicked off with the two women from SpaceX, Polina Danilyuk and Kim-Thu Pham, introducing themselves and SpaceX, a company that designs reusable rockets and spacecraft. They then offered their own personal experiences in STEM from high school to college to their careers as encouragement.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Danilyuk gave the advice to women planning on entering STEM fields, saying that “knowledge is power” and encouraging girls to exercise that power through their studies of STEM subjects and become resilient to criticism.

Although only about 15% of the employees at SpaceX and the aerospace industry as a whole are women, Danilyuk added that SpaceX ran on a meritocracy system that does not leave room for discrimination, and Pham agreed.

“If your numbers are good, if your simulations are good, whether you’re a girl or a guy, no one’s going to stop you,” Pham said. “When you go into a classroom, [you’ll see] mostly guys, but [tell yourself] ‘I belong here.’”

Their message was centered primarily around aerospace but uplifting to girls hoping to go into any STEM field. It is likely that the event will not be the last of its kind, either. Girls Who Code plans to hold more events in the future, including a similar luncheon in the second semester with employees from companies such as Amazon and Google. In the meantime, encourage the girls you know to drop by one of the clubs, and keep an eye out for the opportunities to come!