Communities are becoming involved as female students are encouraged to pursue STEM careers by local business women.
Growing up in Glenview, a young Jodi Mariano enjoyed playing on construction sites, including the Glenbrook Hospital while it was being built on Pfingsten Road.
She also found inspiration from other places designed to blend human comfort with natural surroundings, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robi House in Chicago, an Israeli kibbutz and the Opryland Hotel Atrium in Nashville, Tenn., which is filled with flora, sun, glass and walking paths.
“These were places that balanced nature and something man-made to create mood,” said Mariano, one of the speakers Friday morning at Glenbrook South High School’s 28th annual “Careers for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” expo.
Today, Mariano is a senior landscape architect for Evanston-based Teska Associates.
Nearly 120 high-achieving GBS sophomore girls attended the STEM breakfast presentation, where Andrea Luthi, a doctoral candidate in chemistry, and Mimi Noonan, a veterinary specialist in internal medicine, also spoke on career women in science, engineering and technical fields.
“Being a curious person, I loved studying the world through the lens of landscaping. I wanted to improve our urban landscapes with parks and plazas,” said Mariano, a 1992 GBS graduate.
Each women spoke in detail about their beloved professions; however, their main, inspired messages were on how they prepared for them and what women brought to corporate board rooms, landscape architect studios and science laboratories.
As a high school junior whose graduating class had 30 students, Luthi dropped out of chemistry class due to teacher-induced stress.
She later completed the basic chemistry course online, went on to study environmental biology at Emporia State University in Kansas, and now is studying for a doctorate’s degree at Northwestern University, among the top 10 chemistry departments in the country, she said.
Luthi told the GBS students that listening to negative teachers was meaningless.
“I wasted a lot of time on this. When you’re afraid of something, seek it and you’ll understand it better,” said Luthi, whose doctoral work was in studying nanotechnology as a possible treatment for cancer.
“As females in a male-dominated world, we bring unique perspectives and ideas to problems.
“Different ways of thinking is what drives science,” she said.
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