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Women & girls in science: Q&A Jocelynn Yaroch

For The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we connected with IB chemistry teacher, Jocelynn Yaroch on why we should support women and girls interested in science. Jocelynn, who teaches IB biology, reflects on the need to build confidence in girls passionate about science.

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Each year on February 11, the United Nations focuses on the importance of women and girls in science fields. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to highlight the critical and influential roles that women and girls play in science and technology. By supporting gender equality, we can open new opportunities to develop unique perspectives and ideas to help solve the world’s most pressing issues.

We connected with Science Department Chair and IB Biology Instructor at Notre Dame Preparatory and Marist Academy, Jocelynn Yaroch, who shares the efforts her school has taken to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for young female scientists.

“Increasing the number of women entering STEM-related fields will play a major role combatting [global] crises.”

What makes you passionate about your work?

It is so exciting to see a student have that “a-ha” moment—that point where they make a connection that is uniquely theirs. Those moments are what keep me coming back.

Why do you think it is important for girls to have access to science courses?

In a world where global crises (i.e. climate change, declining pollinator populations) are building faster than ever, STEM-related fields are going to be responsible for coming up with the solutions. Increasing the number of women entering STEM-related fields will play a major role combatting these crises. Currently, women represent slightly more than ⅓ of STEM college graduates. While this number is higher than it was a decade ago, work still needs to be done to level the field.

“Through our daily interactions, we send the message that [girls] can succeed in STEM and should pursue it!”

What strides have you seen taken in your school or community to be more inclusive of girls with an interest in science?

Our high school has 7 science instructors—5 of them are women. The IB and AP physics, chemistry and biology courses are taught by women.  Our students see their first, tough-science expert is a woman and I believe this helps to prevent gender bias in STEM at a young age.  Additionally, we have a thriving robotics team (led by a woman) and have, on many occasions, had all-female drive teams as well as solid female representation on the build team. Girls never get the message that they can’t, which I think is the most important thing that we do. Through our daily interactions, we send the message that they can succeed in STEM and should pursue it!

What tips and advice do you have for educators looking to encourage girls with a passion for science to pursue their interest inside and outside the classroom?

Encouraging girls goes beyond simply helping them identify what they are passionate about; it involves fostering a relationship. They need to feel that you are invested in them and in who they become as they grow and move beyond your classroom.

What advice do you have for girls considering a career in the sciences?

Don’t be afraid when things are more difficult than you anticipated they would be. If something in science excites you, then it should become more difficult as you dive deeper into the topic. See the beauty in the complexity—embrace the challenge! You will learn more about yourself in this process than you would imagine possible, if you are willing to see it through.

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Jocelynn Yaroch is the science department chair and IB biology instructor at Notre Dame Preparatory and Marist Academy.  Jocelynn is also an IB examiner for the biology internal assessment and biology paper 3. She earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Detroit-Mercy in 1999 and M.A. in Molecular Biology from Wayne State University in 2001. She currently lives in Clay Township, MI where she enjoys boating, gardening, bee-keeping and playing with her two Australian Shepherds.

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