What About the Boys? Electric Girls at Isidore Newman School


  • Hannah Hilgeman Tulane University


The importance and benefits of female-only spaces is largely undervalued. Flor Serna, a student at Loyola University New Orleans, created an organization aimed at introducing young girls to electrical engineering and other hands-on science applications. She named the organization Electric Girls to reflect the gender exclusive space the organization creates. Newman School inquired about Serna’s program and asked her to make an exception for their school by allowing boys to join the program. This case examines whether Serna should allow for this exception in order to reap the benefits that come from being connected with a prestigious school like Newman? Or should she stay true to her mission of educating female leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects in a girls-only space? Do gender-specific spaces fight for women’s right to have a safe place as an underrepresented group in STEM or do these spaces only reinforce gender differences currently existing in STEM fields? Do girls-only STEM spaces discriminate against boys and decrease the number of available students for STEM careers? Newman School’s status as an elite private school in Uptown New Orleans could provide a powerful connection for Serna’s organization and propel it towards further success. Serna ultimately decided against allowing Newman School to use her all girls program for co-education practices. This case demonstrates the importance of gender exclusive spaces in the context of helping women succeed in fields where there is a significant gender gap, such as science, technology, engineering, and math.