The co-chairs of Trinity College Dublin Student Union (TCDSU) Diversity in STEM Aisling Greene and TJ Green are two amazing trailblazers. ...and here are their stories.
Who are Aisling Greene and TJ Green ? Why did you choose Science at Trinity?
Aisling: I started in general science at Trinity with the intention of specialising in either
Zoology or Genetics. Obviously, after a few changes of heart, I ended up pursuing
something completely unexpected. I found that Molecular Medicine suited my interests in both biochemistry and immunology, and find that it captures so much in one course and build a bridge between science and medicine. It’s unique, and puts you on a path to explore groundbreaking research and to be able to respond to the rapid pace of scientific discovery.
TJ: I’m the other co-Chair of Diversity in STEM! I’m a second year undergrad in general science, and I’m torn between physiology and zoology. I’d love to normalise gender nonconforming people in not only STEM, but in the medical field, which is why I’d like to study physiology. That, and the female reproductive system is vastly under researched. On the other hand, I love animals (elephants in particular) and it would be a dream come true to work with any animal and advance the field of zoology.
How did you get involved with Diversity in STEM initiative in TCD? Why do you think Diversity in STEM important?
Aisling: I was lucky enough to be a campaign leader for TCDSU Women in STEM in its pilot run two years ago, which is the campaign that Diversity in STEM evolved from. Being involved with Women in STEM was a hugely defining moment for me, as suddenly I was hurled into unchartered territory-firstly event planning, secondly gaining student
engagement, and thirdly and (most importantly) I had a responsibility to create an inclusive and positive environment for STEM students to discuss equality and inequality. Thanks to co-leaders, mentors and friends that guided me, the campaign was a success and encouraged my participation in college life.
The reason why I got involved in the first place and why I continued to be involved was
Support systems like these are crucial to the encouragement and retention of students who may be a part of minority groups in STEM fields. Diversity in STEM aims to discuss the inequalities that exist, but also aims to celebrate diversity and to act as a tool of empowerment and support to our classmates.
TJ: Diversity in STEM is important because
Any STEM subject is about growth, change, and discovery, and these three things are best done with a diverse group of minds.
Everybody has their own point of view and their own ideas, and nobody should be ignored because they don’t fit some predetermined mold. The campaign itself is important because not only is it aimed at people who need to learn that their way of seeing the world isn’t the only way, but also at those who looking for representation. It allows them to see themselves through others like them who are willing to step up and demand their space. This will pave a path for others to follow and to create a more diverse field. I joined this campaign because of the word “diversity”. There are many similar movements to this in Trinity, but most are focused on one minority or subset of people. Since diversity is such a broad spectrum of identities, it will allow for a more intersectional approach that can address more issues than a campaign directed towards one particular identity. Personally, I saw this and recognised the opportunity to use this platform to spread awareness for gender nonconforming people, specifically nonbinary people like myself and I recognised the possibility that there are other people with different identities who haven’t been able to see themselves in a campaign like this.
What are the goals of TCDSU Diversity in STEM?
Aisling: We have a couple of social events planned such as a coffee and donut morning
and a pub quiz, in addition to an event we’re calling ‘How to be Sound in STEM,’ which will act as a platform for constructive discussion and workshopping, and our main event titled ‘Celebrating Diversity,’ which will consist of a panel discussion (including Diversein’s own Furkan Karayel)
TJ: One of the main goals of TCDSU Diversity in STEM is to create a dialogue with people
who hold prejudices or biases and to hopefully educate them and show them all the different ways that people can be themselves or express themselves. Another goal is to celebrate the growth of diversity in STEM and to recognise the barriers that we still face. We also hope to build on the success of this year with more campaigns and events in the future. It will be hard to represent every person in STEM with a small panel, but one day we may have more events so that everyone has a chance to gain inspiration and hope because somebody like them has done it before and can show them the ropes.
Two Ways to follow TCDSU Diversity in STEM activities
Aisling & TJ: We have a Facebook page where we will be posting about our events which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/TCDSUDiversityInSTEM/ and an Instagram where we’ll be posting our ‘Humans of STEM’ photo campaign.
Event: 'Celebrating Diversity' by TCDSU Diversity in STEM
Date: 20th March Wednesday 6:30pm
Venue: Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI), Dublin
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