Johanna Karras: Defying gender roles


The logo and cover of Karra’s business plan for her app Cliqd

Kinglsey Wang

The logo and cover of Karra's business plan for her app Cliqd
The logo and cover of Karra’s business plan for her app Cliqd
Throughout the years, MVHS has gone through a technological metamorphosis. With a bountiful supply of laptops and Chromebooks and two advanced AP Computer Sciences classes, MVHS has equipped many of its students, regardless of gender, to becoming accomplished workers in the STEM fields. However, even with a plethora of MV alumni eventually taking career paths in STEM, one issue is still prevalent: that women are underrepresented in STEM fields.

Luckily, the development of all-girls STEM related clubs, namely WiSTEM and Technovation, have influenced many of its female members to take pathways in STEM related careers. By doing so, these girls are not only taking the issue of under-representation of women in STEM head on, but they are also defying the very gender roles which have shaped many gender stereotypes and career choices since the genesis of human society. Along her journey in high-school, senior Johanna Karras has not only immersed herself in these clubs but also managed to attain high leadership positions such as President and Vice-President respectively.

When joining both clubs in her freshman year, Karra’s main goal was to find a club which she felt had a strong sense of community. After checking out several technology related clubs, she finally settled on being a dedicated member to both WiSTEM and Technovation as, being both small all girls clubs, they provided Karras with the feeling of being in a tightly knit community where everyone could understand each other.

“In Monta Vista, when you have these girls who are interested and that they see other girls who are interested in the same subject matter, it creates a sense of unity.” she says.

As she passed her time in MV, Karras began to notice a larger significance in being a member in both of those clubs: she is representing the minority of women who are defying conventional gender roles through her interest in STEM. However, Karras believes that women being underrepresented in STEM is only one consequence of established gender roles.

“Obviously, the fact that there are less women in these fields is not just an isolated problem as it is a result of many other factors. We tell our girls that they should go into more nurturing careers and this is an example of how gender roles are expressed in our society.” she says.

To Karras, these gender roles range from automatically affiliating women to nurturing careers the exact same way which many schoolboys are being automatically affiliated with messy handwriting.

“As soon as you start to tackle one of these stereotypes, in my case STEM, you also start to take down other gender stereotypes and limitations in which girls might face.” Karras says.