Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12


Girls in STEM attend workshop for hybrid sanitary napkin initiative
Girls in STEM attend workshop for hybrid sanitary napkin initiative

On September 24, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Pennington’s Girls in STEM club attended a workshop led by Michelle Bottomley P’22, Amy Hutnik P’22, and Mike Barkely P’21. The goal of the workshop was to develop a marketing strategy for the rollout of their patent-pending product, a hybrid sanitary napkin. Parents Tina Lambdin P’25, Paul Murphy P’24 ’27, and Scott Gibbard P’19 ’21 ’22 served as facilitators for the workshop.

The hybrid sanitary napkin project began when Susan Wirsig, the director of Pennington’s Applied Science Certificate Program, visited Dzaleka, a refugee camp in Malawi, and saw the challenges that girls in the camp face, including economic hardship, lack of sanitary ways to dispose of waste, water shortages, and insufficient access to menstrual products. These challenges often lead to girls in Dzaleka missing school while menstruating, and, in some cases, dropping out of school altogether. 

Wirsig shared this problem with Pennington’s Girls in STEM club, and the students set out to solve it. In collaboration with girls in Dzaleka, they designed and tested a hybrid menstrual pad that is part reusable and part disposable. Their goal is to package this product into a larger initiative that would give the materials, tools, sewing and business training to displaced women to produce the hybrid pad as a source of income.

In July, Girls in STEM won the grand prize in the Lemonade Stand Contest, a competition by Whalebone Magazine and Faherty Brand, for their hybrid sanitary napkin initiative. The prize included $20,000 in cash, a $40,000 marketing budget, and three one-hour mentoring sessions with the CEO of Faherty. 

Currently, the club is working on developing marketing materials to sell the larger initiative to corporations as a philanthropy target. During the workshop on September 24, Bottomley, Hutnik, and Barkely led an informative presentation to help students brand and market their product, identify their target audiences, and develop a mission for the project. After the presentation, the students broke out into small groups to brainstorm, and they then had an opportunity to present their ideas. Thank you to the generous Pennington parents who led and facilitated the workshop!