Girls and STEM EducationMarch 21, 2008
Do you ever wonder what types of events other AAUW branches put on? This weekend I visited the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch for their third-annual Tech Savvy event. The day exposes sixth to ninth grade girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Although women make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology states that women comprise only 25 percent of the science, engineering, and technology labor force. While discrimination, lack of encouragement, and outdated stereotypes all contribute to women not participating in STEM fields at the same rate as they do in the workforce, informal learning and hands-on experiences like Tech Savvy encourage girls to become the next generation of STEM professionals.
Throughout the day, more than 350 girls at Tech Savvy attended workshops where they learned about careers in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and nursing, as well as those with the FBI and NASA. While the girls were at these sessions, more than 200 parents learned about barriers girls face in these fields, how to encourage their daughters to enter these fields, legislation to diversify STEM fields, and how to prepare for college. The day closed with a keynote address by Camille Alleyne, an aerospace engineer at NASA and the founder and president of the Brightest Stars Foundation, an organization whose mission is to educate and empower young women to be future leaders in STEM. Hearing Camille’s life story of dreaming big and believing in herself inspired these girls to believe that they can — and will — be the next generation of scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians.