In many professions, women have increased their numbers in STEM fields in the U.S., however, women remain the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world. According to data provided by the Society of Women Engineers, between 2011 and 2016 there was a 38% increase in STEM-fundamental Bachelor’s degrees awarded to women, and that includes engineering. Yet surprisingly, women still make up just 13% of the existing engineering workforce. Only 26% of computer scientists are women.
According to the National Science Foundation, women remain underrepresented in STEM. According to their research, there are two types of beliefs that discourage girls from pursuing STEM at an early age: 1) negative stereotypes about their intellectual abilities, and 2) stereotypes about the people who work in STEM careers as being “nerdy” or socially awkward.
Bay Area LEEDS tackles this challenge by providing a variety of ‘girls only’ activities that help to dispel stereotypes that discourage girls from becoming scientists, engineers, technologists and other STEM occupations. Not only do we focus on introducing young girls to a diverse and relatable example of Women in STEM, our programming also provides opportunities for girls to succeed at STEM-related tasks to begin building confidence, helping young girls feel more motivated and capable of success.
Ultimately, our efforts are designed to enable girls to envision themselves following a similar path to success that our Women in STEM have shared with them when these professionals discuss their individual journeys and the superpowers they’ve developed over the course of their careers.
The Girls Lead The Way (GLTW) Summit is a great example of our work.
GLTW STEM Summit—In its third year, this effort brings together more than 150 middle school girls from a variety of East Bay school districts who provide Project Lead The Way Gateways curriculum in grades 6, 7 and 8. It also engages more than 50 Women in STEM from a variety of East Bay companies who mentor these young women in a 5-hour experience which includes keynote speakers, hands-on engineering activities and plenty of one-on-one engagement. The event is scheduled for Fall 2020 and is sponsored by Chevron in collaboration with Contra Costa Transportation Authority and a variety of other partners.
Other ‘girls only’ programs are designed by Bay Area LEEDS to respond to needs of specific industry sectors and individual companies. Let us know if you have an idea you would like to pursue. We’re here to help you realize your desire to support girls in STEM.