Community and mentorship encourage female dominance in forensics

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    Antoinette Thwaites helps a group of kids work through a science experiment in an after school program. (Paige Pfleger/WHYY)

    Antoinette Thwaites helps a group of kids work through a science experiment in an after school program. (Paige Pfleger/WHYY)

    Unlike most STEM fields, forensic science is dominated by women, not men. And Antoinette Thwaites, a forensic scientist for the City of Philadelphia, aims to keep it that way.

    Unlike most STEM fields, forensic science is dominated by women, not men. A 2008 study of forensic science programs across the country showed that 78 percent of the students were women. In science programs more broadly, 35 percent of students are women. Those stats have withstood the test of time at universities like Penn State and the University of North Texas

    For Antoinette Thwaites, a forensic scientist for the City of Philadelphia, an increase in women in the forensics field is the result of a combination of things: more women scientists in crime TV shows, a strong community of women who support each other, and mentorship. 

    Thwaites is the founder and president of the Association of Women in Forensic Science, a nonprofit that creates a community online and in person for women who aspire to work in the field, or already do. She also works with kids through her program Club Philly Forensics, which is an after school program to help inspire kids to become interested in science and forensics. 

    “I started the Association of Women in Forensic Science because of my personal experience with being a chemistry major,” Thwaites says. “I was really just unfamiliar with how to study, and I didn’t have a mentor, I didn’t have much guidance, my parents didn’t go to college, I was the first person in my family to go to college, and if I had someone that these kids have in me now, I feel like I really could have accomplished more.” 

    Listen to the full story above. 

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