Happy International Women’s Day!
Besides the fact that VAWA was signed back into law today (YAY!), I was also able to celebrate the launch of the Boston Area GIRLS STEM Collaborative (www.bostongirlsstem.org) at Microsoft’s NERD Center in Cambridge.
The Boston Area Girls STEM Collaborative is committed to increasing young women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by creating programs that spark their interest and expand their knowledge of the multifaceted careers in these disciplines.
I learned about the Collaborative when I met one of the co-founders, Cynthia Brossman, during my work as a presenter at the Boston University RET Summer program for science educators in 2011.
The night was beautifully organized – it was a shame the weather was so bad!! But the attendees and I who braved the snow and wind were able to enjoy light bites and wine while listening to a panel of female executives in STEM careers discuss why there aren’t more women in STEM careers and suggest ways to increase the numbers.
The statistics are staggering…
Women own less than 25% of STEM jobs but make up 52% of the work force.
Less than 5% of members on an executive team of a startup company are female.
So naturally the question is why?
The consensus on the panel was that a network of ongoing support and mentoring is important once a female gets into the field so that they don’t leave, but that more female professors in STEM college pathways is necessary too. It is possible that a woman can go through an entire engineering education and never see a female professor – 13% of all engineering professors are female. Some education about what an engineer or a scientist actually does is also needed so that young women can understand and appreciate why pursuing a career in a STEM field is interesting and fun and rewarding and lucrative. Alright ladies, it is time to LEAN IN!
I was also able to walk around and visit the many booths set up with plenty of mentoring opportunities for women in Boston and learning opportunities for girls. Here are a few:
S.E.T. in the City: Career exploration for high school girls (www.bostongirlsstem.org/setinthecity)
Science Club For Girls: Science literacy. Sisterhood. Self-confidence. (www.scienceclubforgirls.org)
WSW Web Start Women: Women teaching women how to program. (www.webstartwomen.org)
Codagogy: Online web development courses for women. (www.codagogy.com)
The Artem!s Project 2013: Rising 9th grade girls learn to program web sites, build robots, create games. (www.bu.edu/lernet/artemis)
Tech Savvy for Middel School Girls: Have fun with computers, engineering and technology. (www.bostongirlsstem.org/techsavvy)
Summer Pathways in science and engineering at Boston Univeristy; (www.bu.edu/lernet/spathways)
GDI Boston: Girl Develop It helps women build web sites and apps. (www.gdiboston.com)
WEST: Advancing women in the business of science and technology (www.westorg.org)