According to STEMconnector, of the 75 percent of college students who are women and students of color, just 45 percent graduate with STEM degrees each year. The organization also states that the wage gap in STEM fields is 92 cents on the dollar, compared with 75 cents in other fields, and women who work in STEM earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs.
One reason STEMconnector is making the push for the Million Women Mentors program is because many girls who are interested in STEM careers, along with women who work in the field, feel isolated from their peers. The mentorship program is meant to instill confidence in young women by connecting them with other women who have taken the STEM path and succeeded–in essence, giving girls a role model.
STEM promotion starts in school. However, according to STEMconnector, 50 percent of schools in the U.S. do not have a focused STEM program, half of schools do not offer calculus, and 37 percent do not offer physics. Additionally, in 36 out of 50 states, computer science is not encouraged.
So what can schools do to stimulate STEM interests? STEMconnector and TCS highlight five programs for middle and high school students that encourage STEM learning.
This week-long summer camp for rising eighth grade girls allows students to see the possibilities of STEM careers whether as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians or computer specialists.
In 2013 the Tech Trek camp was hosted in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Washington. Girls built and programmed their own robots, extracted their own DNA, and learned how computer simulations are used to predict weather patterns. This year, camps will also be held in Alabama, New Mexico, and Oregon. Tech Trek is hosted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which promotes equity and education for women.
Expanding Your Horizons Network Programs
Expanding Your Horizons Network, an advocacy group for women in STEM careers, holds conferences around the country that allow young girls to participate in hands-on activities led by women who have STEM jobs. The activities give girls an idea of what they would do if they worked in the field. The events not only provide the opportunity to interact with female professionals in the field, but also link girls with other girls their age who share their interests.
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