What is STEM? STEM is the learning and application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, where students develop key skills including problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. Careers in these fields play a key role in the growth of the economy and facilitate the next generation of innovators.
However, there is also what is known as the STEM gap – a gender gap where men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college and in STEM careers. Women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce and only 4% is represented by Black and Hispanic women. Careers in STEM can help narrow the gender pay gap and ensure a diverse and talented STEM workforce which in turn can help prevent biases in these fields.
Science Club for Girls (SCFG) is committed to addressing this critical need for more women in the STEM workforce. The non-profit aims to foster excitement, confidence, and literacy in STEM subjects for girls and young women from underrepresented communities with free, experiential community-based programs.
“STEM needs to be where children are – in schools, community centers, after-school and on weekends and introduced at a young age when children are most curious.”
SCFG, based in Cambridge, MA, offers a wide range of engaging activities, along with mentoring and leadership experiences, all crucial in giving girls and young women the skills and confidence they need to succeed in math and science.
The programs are designed as clubs to reinforce collaboration and teamwork which is shown to greatly enhance girls’ learning. The clubs are free – removing a barrier to access and the activities offered are hands-on, with opportunities to experiment. The support that SCFG gives, and the improvement to their STEM education, provides the girls with an environment to learn and thrive in.
“Over the last eleven years, >90% of our high school juniors and seniors have gone on to college (up 20% over the national average) and of those girls, >55% of them choose to major in STEM.”
Alongside the science clubs, which are organized by age/grade, the organization also offers a Junior Mentor program which allows the girls to improve their leadership skills. In this program, girls from grades 8-12, can serve as near-peer mentors and co-teach with adult mentors.
The mentoring, leadership and role model experiences are equally as vital to the girls as the science clubs. Girls have fewer role models – there are even fewer role models for girls of color – to encourage their interest in these fields of math and science. Role models from the community can really inspire these young girls and help shape their future.
STEM skills are becoming increasingly crucial in the job market. If girls aren’t interested in STEM subjects when they’re young, there’s a danger that they’ll be left behind when it comes to career opportunities. And this is what Science Club for Girls aims to change – fostering excitement and curiosity in STEM subjects at a young age so that their students stay interested in math and science throughout high school giving them access and possibilities to STEM careers in the future. Moreover, there is a drastic shortage of STEM workers in the U.S., and we are facing increasingly complex problems whose solutions are rooted in STEM. We need to expand the STEM workforce, and SCFG fills this critical need.
Science Club for Girls are currently offering virtual science clubs due to current pandemic restrictions. You can still get involved by either making a donation, or becoming a mentor or volunteer, or even just spreading the word about this worthy cause.