Head of School Weekly Notes

Cracking the Code: NIS Women in STEM

Thank you to all of you – our NIS community – for a terrific first quarter of fun and learning at NIS. Today was a celebration of everything our students have achieved as we shared in assemblies in both the primary and secondary schools throughout the day. Much of the content for these assemblies was created – and driven  – by the students themselves; a wonderful example of the kind of creative and confident community of learners represented by our students.

Of all the wonderful things happening in the assemblies today, I wish to draw particular attention to the success of one of our High School students who recently won the Japanese Olympiad in Informatics for Girls. As the gold medalist in this computer science event, she then represented Japan (virtually) in the European Girls Olympiad in Informatics in Switzerland. This is an incredible achievement and accomplishment and we are so very proud of her. The massive gold medal trophy she was awarded will be held on display for all to see!

Of course, this celebration also reminds us all of the importance of nurturing the aspirations of all of our students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. In particular women have traditionally been under-represented in these fields and our student’s successes remind us of how important strong female role-models in these fields are. This year’s United Nations Women’s day had a particular focus on women in science. The United Nations reported HERE that at present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. The figure in computer science is only 3%, making the achievements of our student in the Japanese Olympiad all the more remarkable. Also disturbing is the fact that a study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 11.6% per cent were women – meaning that the bias we see in the real world is embedded strongly in the cultural representations to which our children are exposed on a daily basis (see HERE).

It is then wonderful to enter the fall break with gratitude to the strong female role models in STEM, to our teachers who do all they can to nurture a love of STEM in our young women - and to the parents at home who encourage our daughters to go out and have an impact on the world through science; just as our gold medalist student has done!

M. Parr,
Head of School, NIS