In elementary school, about as many girls as boys have a positive attitude toward science. But shortly thereafter, more girls than boys begin to turn away from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This results in the significant underrepresentation of women in many STEM careers. (Credit: Author. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. National Science Foundation)
Studies of cultural beliefs indicate that girls begin to conclude that STEM is not for them in middle school, and these beliefs influence choices they make throughout their school years. Stereotypes of who is a scientist are changing, but not quickly enough.
A key message from the Girls of Innovation program is to show them scientists who are “like me” and to inspire girls with the confidence, enthusiasm and persistence to continue pursuing their scientific interests. We do that by bringing the girls together with women working in STEM careers who can talk with the girls about their own career path and interests and choices they made while growing up.
On Saturday, June 15th, the Girls of Innovation Science Challenge took place at the Connecticut Science Center. We had 36 great girls entering grades 7 & 8 that came to explore science and its challenges in a fun, interactive way. An offshoot of CTC's Women of Innovation® program, Girls of Innovation inspires today's middle school students to consider studies in science and technology-related research, health services and business areas.
In the morning the girls played ice breaker games and heard from Jackie Jones and Kristen Langois from Covidien about what it's like to be a woman in a STEM field and what inspired them to follow that path.
Teams then spread out into the science galleries to complete six team science challenges, and then met back together to explore Covidien's surgical displays. After lunch, the girls had team photos taken and completed the Cultural Pursuits Scavenger Hunt.
Next, they set off to explore the Connecticut Science Center with their teams. The mentors who spent the day supporting teams of girls were drawn from the Connecticut Women of Innovation® program and CTC membership. They took time to talk with the students about their careers and helped guide them through the science challenges created by the CT Science Center Staff Scientists.
The Connecticut Technology Council would like to thank Covidien for supporting this event and our effort to inspire girls to go into the science, technology, engineering and math fields.