Women of Reform Judaism Visits Sci-Tech
by Amelia Lavranchuk, Unit Head and Social Media Coordinator
On Sunday, we welcomed special guest Blair C. Marks to Sci-Tech! Blair is the president of Women of Reform Judaism, an organization that unites Sisterhood and women’s groups in order to strengthen the voice of women throughout the Reform Movement. The WRJ is committed to a range of humanitarian causes in addition to advocating for women’s rights. They also seek to promote Jewish engagement and the development of Jewish leaders. We are especially thankful to the WRJ for providing us with a grant to support girls attending Sci-Tech this summer! The goal of the grant is to engage our female campers with Judaism as we support them in the pursuit of their interests in science and technology.
Blair spoke to camp at Boker Big Bang about her experience as a ceramics engineer. It turns out that ceramics engineers create everything from toilets to the heat shield tiles on the space shuttle! In addition to her work as an engineer, Blair is active in the Temple Kol Emeth Sisterhood in Marietta, GA and serves on the board of the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Centers, which promotes improving science and technology education for elementary and middle school students.
While visiting Sci-Tech, Blair sat down for a special conversation with campers in Rosie 1 and Rosie 2, where they shared their experiences as girls pursuing interests in science and technology. Blair pointed out the world is changing and some fields where women were previously virtually absent, like medicine, are now dominated by women. Blair feels that women right out of college today have a vastly different experience entering STEM fields than she had. However, the work of engaging women in science and technology is far from over. The campers shared different experiences with Blair. “When people say girls can’t do it, I just show them that I can,” said Leah in Rosie 2. “What role you play in continuing the species has nothing to do with how well you can program a robot,” added Sienna in Rosie 2.
Other campers expressed concerns that their possibilities might be limited because of their gender. They pointed out that many of the top positions in companies are not filled by women because women are pushed away from these roles.
When the girls were asked what brought them to Sci-Tech, many said that their moms were the ones who heard about camp and encouraged them to attend. This dynamic, says Blair, shows why the work of the WRJ continues to be important. “We still need a single-gender organization in order to provide a place for women to have conversations that would not take place in a mixed-gender space,” she explained.