Thinking Outside the Classroom: The benefits of gender-specific programming
Keystone Science School Program Coordinator
Keystone Science School launched its Girls in STEM program in 2015 with the hope of engaging female students in STEM education, to challenge the gender gap and to inspire social change within STEM fields.
“Women’s under-representation in STEM fields starts early with gender gaps in STEM interests beginning in middle school and growing throughout high school, college and career,” according to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado publication This is What STEM Looks Like!
The Summit County program works to get third- through eighth-grade girls excited about these fields and careers that are traditionally dominated by men. This year, Keystone Science School expanded Girls in STEM to include a high school leadership program that strives to empower girls to be confident and positive role models as well as encourage continued engagement in STEM opportunities.
The all-female instructional team mentors the girls with personal insights on career paths, challenges, failures and successes.
In 2018, 82% of participants said they preferred working in a girls-only environment.
The program explores a variety of different topics and careers to empower girls to engage in hands-on, real-world activities and learn how STEM is relevant and fun.
Girls have learned the basics of coding, created their own original films and made homemade Dippin’ Dots with liquid nitrogen and vanilla ice cream.
Participants said the program helped them learn more about STEM fields, understand the gender gap in those areas and feel as though they could pursue a career in science and technology.
The reality is that there still is underrepresentation of females within STEM fields in the workforce. However, we are seeing change slowly but surely as a result of our program.
In 2019, 96% of participants showed more interest in the STEM field after attending a STEM program, and one participant shared that the program “sparked more passion for learning about technical sciences.”
We are excited that our programming is contributing to greater gender diversity and equality within STEM careers in the future.
To learn more about the Girls in STEM program, visit KeystoneScienceSchool.org/girls-in-stem or call 970-468-2098.
Carrie Scheick is the program coordinator at Keystone Science School.
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