Why am I not a female scientist? I wanted to be, and I even entered my undergraduate studies with dreams of one day becoming a doctor. But, like many girls in the sciences, when the coursework became challenging, I lost the confidence in my ability to pursue my dream and complete my studies. I lacked a community of support to see me through the challenges; a group of women and girls that could speak from experience and help me see my potential and visualize my future in the sciences. Unfortunately my experience is not unique and one that is faced by so many girls and young women today.
I ended up completing my degree in Public Policy and Administration and spent the next 20 years working as a non-profit executive. But, over the past several years through my work as Executive Director of The NASCAR Foundation, I became increasingly aware of the disadvantages that girls and women still face in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) today. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. A few of the contributing factors to this difference include: a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields.
So, I founded Project Scientist in order to engage with and inspire my two daughters and other young girls with a passion for the STEM subjects. We just wrapped up our Project Scientist Academy, a four-week summer camp that provides an engaging and fun environment for girls, ages 4-12, with an aptitude, talent, and passion for STEM. The Academy brings together like-minded girls who enjoy exploring through the sciences and celebrating their accomplishments.
A key tent pole of our Academy and pipeline is the use of female STEM professionals from across the country and world for our mentorship program, which we call Project Scientist Superstars. Mentors have the opportunity to visit camp and lead a project with the girls, Skype with campers or do a video interview Q&A to share their personal story about what sparked their interest in the sciences and whom they count as personal mentors.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc