Symposium Aims to Inspire the Women of Prep

Symposium+Aims+to+Inspire+the+Women+of+Prep

HUBERT WORLEY 2013

Science teacher Ms. Lauri Byrd has been teaching for many years and during this time she has noticed that sometimes her female students appear to be less assertive than their male counterparts. Ms. Byrd said she could not remember a time when she ever felt she couldn’t do something, and she wants Prep girls to have this same confidence.

Prep juniors Amber Mabry, McKenzie Robinson, and Claire McGehee listen to the symposium's speakers. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.
Prep juniors Amber Mabry, McKenzie Robinson, and Claire McGehee listen to the symposium’s speakers. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.

Recently, she learned that there is a huge gender gap in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Ms. Byrd hopes to use science to create confidence because, it’s a class everyone must take and a class where girls tend to be more hesitant.

Ms. Lauri Byrd kicks off the symposium. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.
Ms. Lauri Byrd kicks off the symposium. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.

On September 18th, all the senior high girls gathered in Lindsay Hall to have the first of four “Young Women in Science” symposia that are scheduled throughout the year.

Three speakers, in varying stages of their careers, came to share their experiences in school: their struggles, their motivations, and their sources of confidence. Miss Mississippi 2013, Paromita Mitra, who is majoring in aerospace engineering at Mississippi State University,  spoke about her experience with a calculus professor who laughed in Paromita’s face when she expressed her desire to become an engineer. Paromita encouraged the girls to discover their passion and to have enough resilience to never back down.

Dr. Tami Brooks and Beth Browlee both shared similar stories of courage, perseverance, and the importance of challenging yourself.

In the hours following the meeting, Ms. Byrd began to see the immediate effects the symposium had on some of her chemistry students. Girls who were normally quiet in class started to speak up, and several other students asked if the speakers could come again. With all the positive feedback, Ms. Byrd hopes students are realizing that “resilience and confidence are the keys to success-girls and boys; it applies to everyone.”

Pediatrician Dr. Tami Brooks addresses the symposium. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King
Pediatrician Dr. Tami Brooks addresses the symposium. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King
Speaker Paromita Mitra, Miss Mississippi 2013, is studying aerospace engineering. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.
Speaker Paromita Mitra, Miss Mississippi 2013, is studying aerospace engineering. Photo courtesy of Ms. Vicki King.