The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur celebrates and emphasizes the importance of women in STEM fields every day. Today, Notre Dame joins the rest of the nation in recognizing and celebrating women breaking the STEM glass ceiling.
National STEM Day, on November 8, celebrates education and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
According to the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS), all-girls’ schools are leading the way in closing the gender gap in STEM.
“Graduates of girls’ schools report greater confidence than co educated peers in their ability to use technical science skills; understand scientific concepts; generate a research question; explain study results; and determine appropriate data collection,” shared NCGS.
Notre Dame STEM Department Chair Kathleen McTiernan started her career in cancer research but felt isolated and wanted to interact more with people in the science world. McTiernan, who also teaches Middle School science and is a certified Apple teacher, says that her experience with her own science teachers when she was a student, ignited her passion to “light the spark in students.”
McTiernan said that a day like National STEM Day “gives the girls a chance to see what women can do.”
In April 2019, the doors to the Riley Center for STEM Education officially opened on campus at Notre Dame. Since then, girls and young women have been given countless opportunities to explore and excel in STEM fields through coursework, experiments, clubs, lectures, and more.
McTiernan said that having both Math and Science in the same building, shows students just how closely related and intertwined they are.
That also having the Middle and Upper School together in the same building for these courses, allows for the younger students to look up to the older students and see what they can do and who they can become one day.
“The Riley Center for STEM Education lets the girls know we are very serious about young women in STEM and that we support them,” McTiernan said.
Notre Dame “walks the walk” according to McTiernan, because at Notre Dame, there is a curriculum, staff, and facility to inspire, guide, and support students who are interested in pursuing a degree and/or career in STEM.
"I'm hoping that here at Notre Dame, we can nourish that spark [our students] have, we can encourage them to follow their STEM path, and help them realize that they are very much able and capable to do anything they want in the STEM world." McTiernan said.