University tries to get more women involved in STEM

Throughout Women’s History Month the Women’s Center will have several different events in honor of the celebration. One of the events held on Wednesday afternoon was Girls in STEM. Graduate assistant Kristen Bunner says that this is the first of three events for the Brown Bag Series in honor of Women’s History Month.

The event was a panel discussion that focused on how to get females more involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The panel consisted of three women who have each had a hand in encouraging young girls to bridge the gap in the STEM fields.

Kristine Blair is a professor at the University and is also chair of the Department of English. Blair was a part of an initiative known as the Digital Mirror Computer Camp for Girls. With the camp the girls from sixth to eighth grade have the opportunity to be introduced to technology. She said they learn how to use things like Adobe products, iMovie and Garage Band. They also talk about their work on blog sites like WordPress. At the end of the camp each girl presents their work to their families.

“STEM should be everyone’s business,” Blair said. “This camp helps these young girls grow academically and professionally.”

Chris Salley Davis, director of program and partnerships for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, also wanted to help bridge the STEM gap with young girls. Davis spoke passionately about wanting to help girls meet those gap areas.

“We want to help girls realize where they are, where they want to be and where they can be,” she said.

Davis also spoke about a high school program that the Girl Scouts are apart of. They are helping high school girls learn more about the STEM background and how to become more involved. She said that the program provides each girl with a mentor. That mentor helps them to see where they can be, and make them feel that they can reach that point as well.

Tech Trek is also a program that helps young girls learn more about STEM career paths. This camp was started last year and Beth Pinheiro, an instructor in the school of family and consumer sciences, was a part of the start to this program. She said their science and math teachers nominate girls for the program. It includes a weeklong stay at the University where the girls get hands-on STEM experience in things like chemistry, stargazing and other fields.

“They are surrounded by women who care and want to help them grow,” she said.

Pinheiro said that next year they plan to have two core courses in cancer research. The program would also like to highlight forensics, robotics and water quality.