On February 4, the University of Alaska Anchorage campus was swarming with more than 800 Girl Scouts attending the 20th annual Women of Science and Technology Day.
It’s not surprising why this event draws such a crowd. What kid wouldn’t love dissecting moose poop, playing with magnets, meeting a Great Horned owl, designing a mini roller-coaster, or drilling a hole in a tooth?
To the casual observer, this might seem like just another great hands-on learning experience. But, there’s a reason the event recruits only women presenters, and why its target audience is middle-school and younger girls. Because behind all the fun, some serious life lessons are taking place.
Although women in the United States have made great strides in education and the work force since Girl Scouts was founded by Juliette Gordon Low 100 years ago, they haven’t advanced as far as we might have expected. Especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, collectively referred to as STEM, women continue to be underrepresented.
Studies show that girls perform equally well, if not better, in science and math than boys at all grade levels. But by middle school, girls start to lose interest in STEM subjects. A number of factors may be at play, including lack of confidence and outdated stereotypes that girls aren’t good at math or aren’t suited for jobs in science.
The good news is that when girls receive encouragement from adults and are exposed to someone working in a STEM field, they are more likely to remain interested and involved in STEM. A Girl Scout Research Institute survey released recently also found that teen girls who self-identified as being interested in STEM were more likely to have done hands-on science activities when they were younger than girls who did not express an interest in STEM.
With this knowledge in hand, Girl Scouts of Alaska is working to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields by connecting girls with women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in their own communities.
Check out these upcoming Women of Science events in your community:
March 3 – Soldotna
March 10 – Bethel
March 31 – Juneau
March 31 – Wasilla
April 14 – Kodiak
April TBA – Cordova
By bringing unique events and experiences like this to Girl Scouts and other girls across Alaska, Girl Scouts of Alaska is inspiring future generations to do great things.
Do you have a daughter interested in science, math, engineering or technology? Has she attended a Women of Science event? What other things can we do to support our girls in pursuing STEM careers?