Thanks to the Girl Scouts and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, over 400 girls discovered that STEM careers are a pathway for them at the fifth annual Geek is Glam event.
“Women are underrepresented in STEM fields, and research shows that girls are interested and smart enough to see themselves in STEM fields,” said Dana Carnegie. She is the communications manager for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, hosts of the event. “We give girls all opportunities to explore these different career opportunities, and we help the girls realize that they have a lot of options,” said Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts regional group.
Girls attended a STEM Expo, with presenters including Aldrich Astronomical Society, UMass Medical School, and Women in Robotics Engineering.
Herpetologist Valerie Gordon of Rainforest Reptile Shows brought a collection of reptiles and amphibians, including a small alligator, a tegu lizard, and a boa constrictor.
“Without these girls seeing these animals, these girls would not be able to know as much about them,” Ms. Gordon said. “It is a very rewarding career because you can spark interest in others.”
“I’ve always wanted to see an alligator up close, because I watch a lot of animal shows, so it’s nice to actually be able to touch one,” said 11 year old Laura Decker.
According to Hallberg, girls initially have a lot of interest in STEM fields, but it diminishes due to a lack of mentors and unsafe environments which do not encourage them to try. This makes events such as Geek is Glam important.
“The pipeline for girls in STEM is not big, and we need to make it bigger,” Mrs. Hallberg said.
“A girl can’t be what a girl can’t see. When she comes to GIG, she sees women engineers, women robotics teams, and role models that help her envision a STEM future,” Mrs. Carnegie said.