Christine Niccoli

At the time of this interview, Christine was the Program Manager for Science Club for Girls. 

At the time of this interview, Christine was the Program Manager for Science Club for Girls. 

1. In layman’s terms, explain what you do.

For Science Club for Girls, I managed after school and Saturday clubs for girls in K-8th grade focused on STEM hands-on activities mentored and taught by teams of adult volunteer scientists and teen girls.

2. Why did you choose to go into STEM?

I chose to study and go into STEM because I have loved mathematics since I was young. Until college, I had thought of being a math teacher and pursued math and science in college. In college I became interested in the connection between STEM and social justice, particularly women’s rights.

3. What is your favorite aspect of your job? 

I love building networks and spaces that are validating, confidence boosting, and safe for people impacted by oppression, trauma, and/or poverty.

4. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Having time to do all the things! From emails to phone calls, to meetings, to being on site at programs; it’s a lot to juggle every day.

5. What roadblocks have you faced on your path to where you are today?

After college, I experience sexism, sexual harassment, and an overall disempowering work environment where women were often believed to not be able to do things that the male staff could. This experience taught me the difficulty of standing up for yourself and others, while maintaining a job/professional network. It taught me to be picky when it comes to future work environments.

6. What has been your greatest achievement in your career?

My greatest achievement in my career has been expanding programming to meet more girls, in particular middle school girls. Over my years at Science Club for Girls I was able to increase the middle school enrollment for one of my sites by 300% (from 4 to 16 girls). In addition to more girls, 70% of the 16 girls were girls of color and/or from low income households.

7. What do you believe is the most important thing for girls to know before pursuing STEM?

I believe girls should know they have so many options that fall under STEM and many of them are interconnected so they don’t have to choose just one. I would encourage them to ask questions from people in STEM, google STEM careers, go to workshops and events to find what sparks their curiosity. Ask themselves the question, what makes you smile and what motivates you to learn more?

8.  What problem would you like to see solved by STEM in the next 10 years?

This is a tough question. I would love to see the race and gender gap in STEM be solved in 10 years; where girls and women of color can easily see themselves in engineering, physics, math, and computer science professions.

9.  What motivates you?

Helping others and having a meaningful impact motivates me

10.  How do you define success?

Success to me is if I feel fulfilled by what I am doing and am able to maintain a lifestyle comfortable for myself and people I love

11.  What one discovery in science do you most admire and why?

I most admire Rachel Carson’s work on exposing the harmfulness of DDT for wildlife and humans. She chose to speak out about an issue that was very controversial at the time because it would help the environment and people.

12.  What one book do you recommend everyone read, and why?

There are so many books I would recommend but one that immediately comes to mind is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I would choose this book because poetry is something that soothes me and her book in my opinion gets at the core of many women’s experiences throughout their life.

13.  If you could invent anything or make any discovery, what would it be and why?

If I could invent anything, I would invent something that would enable someone to feel exactly what another person is feeling. This would be very difficult but I think it would help others be more empathetic towards people.

14.  If you could go back in time what advice would you give your high school self?

I would tell my high school self she is strong and making good choices. I would tell her to not be so afraid of asking for help and that people who are good for you will gladly help you in the ways you need.

15.  What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a success in your field?

  • Flexibility
  • Organization
  • Compassion

 

 

Shreya PatelComment