With over 120 extracurricular clubs, Naperville North has a wide variety of student groups that highlight the diversity of the student body. These clubs allow students to meet others who are interested in the same topics as they are and to engage in activities and dialogue about them. Two of Naperville North’s extracurricular clubs — Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) and Feminist Roundtable — stand out as environments that aim to empower young women and give them a voice.
Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS)
“Engaging.” “Challenging.” “Community.” These are the words GEMS members use to describe their organization. GEMS is a close-knit environment that allows girls to explore their interests in engineering, math, and science without having to take a class in the subject. From bottle rockets to dissections, engineering challenges to crystallizing chocolate, and studying astrophysics to looking at brain waves, the group covers a broad span of topics to allow girls to explore potential careers in traditionally male-dominated fields.
The strong sense of community senior Co-Presidents Mary Gut and Mona Fang are cultivating is of the utmost importance to them, and they consider it one of the core values of their organization.
“It builds an environment that’s really supportive for girls, especially since girls are the minority in a lot of STEM fields,” Gut said.
GEMS is a safe place for girls to delve in to their passions, while also having the support of all the other members.
“If I want to pursue something, I know I have a place to do that and I have people there to help me find solutions,” sophomore member Anika Karamuri said.
GEMS also helps its members develop the skills and networking opportunities they would need in their future career. Sophomore Katie Watson joined GEMS because she was interested in a STEM career, but wasn’t sure what was the best fit for her. Engineering challenges hosted by local colleges have allowed her to start to narrow down her interests.
“When we went to the engineering challenges, I got to see what engineering jobs were available and begin to use and learn the technical skills I would need for a career in that field,” Watson said.
As an organization, GEMS is looking to empower girls to keep fighting for equality in the STEM fields and in society.
“While feminism is a big part of our culture right now, I don’t think it’s as prominent or forceful as it was in past decades, and I think that with organizations like this we can try to continue the momentum that previous generations have provided us with,” Gut said.
GEMS meets on Tuesday mornings from 7:15 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. in room 143, and welcomes all new members.
Only at Feminist Roundtable could you walk into a classroom holding an educational and informed discussion on the effects, issues and controversies surrounding pornography. Tackling a wide range of topics centered around female equality, Feminist Roundtable provides students from all backgrounds, races, genders and political affiliations with an open forum for questions and opinions.
“The club is very free-spirited, and I think that’s the vibe that the original founders of Feminist Roundtable had 25 years ago,” Feminist Roundtable Co-President Jessica Lee said. “It’s a nice haven for people to come and share their ideas on social issues.”
The club houses a wide range of members, from curious underclassmen to consistent members who show up every week. Although many people who identify as a feminist often lean to the liberal end of the spectrum, junior member Chloe Forero believes the club is a very open space for all voices.
“We are here to listen to everybody. You could be a member of the alt-right, and we would still listen to you,” Forero said.
In terms of discussion topics, the club mainly focuses on social issues, particularly those involved with gender issues. Some of the most widely enjoyed discussions, such as the debate over prostitution, were also the most contentious.
“The most educational and instructional meetings are those where we have had disagreements,” Feminist Roundtable Philanthropy Chair Max Zhang said. “They foster a lot of dialogue and looking at feminism from a different standpoint.”
During National Women’s History Month, Feminist Roundtable worked to fundraise for charities supporting women around the globe. For Forero, March represents not just a celebration of women but also the acknowledgement of historical achievements.