Student ‘STEMinists’ Fundraise to Support Women in Science Conference


From left: Jacklyn Zarrilli, 10, and Angela Zarrilli, 15, display their new products (T-shirts, pillows, mugs, and notebooks) created to support the 5th annual Women in Science Conference.

Greenwich cartoonists AJ Ink hosted a fundraiser to help the 5th Annual Women in Science Conference on Oct. 24 in Shenzhen, China. A “STEMinist” logo created by 15-year old Angela Zarrilli and 10-year old sister Jacklyn Zarrilli was printed on T-shirts, mugs, pillows, and notebooks, now on sale at AJInkDesigns.weebly.com. Angela states, “STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math- merging that with ‘feminist’ creates the term STEMinist.” To promote the sale of ‘STEMinist’ items, Angela and Jacklyn created a series of 18 blog posts to document their experience. “Explaining the hardships and triumphs we faced is important. So, we created our own blog.”

In December of 2017, Angela, a Sophomore at Greenwich High School, and Jacklyn, a 5th grader at Glenville Elementary School, hosted a successful fundraiser through the sale of calendars for a local non-profit Abilis, which provides services for people with special needs. Jacklyn said, “Our current fundraising effort for Women in Science features products printed with a DNA-based design, that scientifically displays ‘STEMinist’ is in our DNA.” Jacklyn explains, “The design is printed in white on black products for a chalkboard effect, helping to give it a more sciency-look for the conference.”

The first Women in Science Conference took place in Shenzhen, China in October, 2015. The goal was having junior women researchers learn from senior female scientists in a formal conference setting. According to Dr. Laurie Goodman, PhD “This conference is important because internationally, women scientists typically make up about 23% of the speakers at conferences, even though women often make up 40% or more of the researchers in their fields.” The fundraising effort, created by the Zarrillis, was in response to the Beijing Genome Institute’s (BGI) April 2019 announcement that they would not include the Women in Science conference in this year’s budget.

The sisters were inspired by Dr. Goodman, Angela and Jacklyn’s aunt. “When I realized that this project my aunt had been working on for 4+ years may be stopped, I just thought about all the women that would be denied this opportunity,” said Angela. Jacklyn added, “We wanted to do this to make sure that the women in STEM fields get equal opportunities as men, and they are updated in the Science world.” Other contributors include Jennifer Zarrilli, Benefactor of AJ Ink, Phil Lohmeyer of The Comic Tree and Whitby School, and RedBubble.com

According to Dr. Goodman, “Angie and Jackie’s fundraising efforts and blog posts of their work convinced BGI to now fund the conference, giving this opportunity back to all the women planning to attend.” Goodman stated that, instead, the money raised will now go to the “Young Women Scientist Travel Award”, which is given to one attendee every year. Angela added, “I’m so glad that we were able to be such a big part of the production of this conference, and it means so much to get all this support from people all over!”

For more information regarding the “Women in Science Conference” visit https://icg.bio/ICG14Program, to contact the founders of AJ Ink visit their website at Ajinkdesigns.weebly.com

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