Greenlight For Girls Empowers Girls To Puruse Study in STEM

Greenlight for Girls (g4g), an international organization, reaches six continents to help young girls pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) career fields, including those of math and science.

Melissa Rancourt, the founder of g4g, said “These subjects will make doors open for you, and you can do more than you can imagine.” Rancourt’s remarks were made at the first Greenlight for Girls Day at Andover, which took place on Sunday. An international organization, g4g strives to help young girls around the world find their place in STEM career fields. 56 middle school girls from schools surrounding Andover participated in the events, each dressed in a white lab coat. The event was hosted by organizers Lila Brady ’18, Emma Donchi ’18, and Jackie Rossi ’20.

Rossi said, “This is a personal mission for me as well. In the future, I want to be able to work in STEM and I want to see more women around me. [In my old school] I’d see [girls] raise their hand and they just put it down. That’s something that’s always stood out to me. I’ve always tried to be the person who raises [my] hand in class. That one question you do answer, it won’t change your career path, but those are little steps to empowering girls in STEM.”

“For our event specifically, the goal was to empower and inspire girls to be more interested in STEM and more specifically, I think we provided great role models and that is a huge part of this inspiration,” said Brady.

Rossi, Brady, and Donchi have been working extensively on this event for over a year. Rossi lives in Brussels, Belgium, where the charity is based, and first attended g4g when she was nine years old. The organizers worked with advisor Clyfe Beckwith, Dean of Studies and Instructor in Physics.

“[Andover’s] most recent strategic plan has us focus on three pillars. One is equity and inclusion. Another pillar is creativity and innovation. The third pillar is empathy and balance. g4g fits into all of these strategic pillars,” said Beckwith in his opening address.

Since it was founded, the g4g organization has hosted events across six different continents. Rancourt is an engineer herself, and has taken on various roles and jobs throughout her life, engineering and pioneering new products and designs.

Rancourt said, “Especially in the news these days, [gender equality] is a really important topic. But I’ve always felt this is the case and it’s something that I’ve put my energy in addition to the careers I’ve followed. At the time I started [g4g], I had that frustration [with not seeing enough females in my field] and I said, ‘Okay, this is it. We’ve got to do something and we can see the difference.’”

Rancourt continued, “We see the results in the work that we do, and how much confidence is built. The [ girls] are going after things. Maybe they just needed that push and connection to reality.” After the opening remarks, the girls went off to take part in individual workshops, which were run by engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. One of the workshops was run by Scarlett Koller, who currently works on the life support systems of spacecrafts at SpaceX. On Sunday, Koller ran an egg drop workshop in addition to giving a keynote address.

Janae Neal, one of the middle school participants in the egg drop workshop, said, “The goal of this experiment is to drop the egg, [to model] astronauts getting back to Earth. As we drop [the egg], we want to make sure it is doesn’t break. We’re using different materials to create cushions, covers, and parachutes to deploy the egg so that it’s safe and doesn’t crack.”

Anaya Zuniga, a student from Frost Middle School, was excited to talk to teachers about their experiences in STEM. She said, “I liked how the teachers explained their careers [at the opening] and it’s very interesting to see. As a girl growing up, you say, ‘Wow, I can do that too!’ Nothing is impossible, and you just have to keep going. What I learned from this experience is to never give up.”