High Tech Pros Stress STEM Learning For Female Students

STEM Breakfast Targets Female Students
Posted on 03/05/2018
STEM

The Mehlville School District is teaming up again this year with professional women in the St. Louis area to encourage teenage girls to consider STEM related careers—science, technology, engineering and math.   Special STEM breakfasts were recently held at Bernard Middle School, Buerkle Middle School, Oakville Middle School and Washington Middle School to give female students a chance to chat with women currently working in high tech fields.

“Sometimes we hear that there aren’t women in STEM professions and I think that girls need to see that yes, women do work in science, math and engineering so they can see themselves also working in those professions,” said Amanda Zink, who is the District’s Director of Secondary Curriculum, Professional Development and Assessment.  “The intention is for this to be casual and low key.  They get to eat breakfast together and have a conversation about how the adult women got started in these fields.”

Nearly 200 students attended the breakfasts.  The girls moved from table to table and talked with women who are currently working in STEM related careers or working on graduate college degrees in those fields.  “These women are excited to share what they do with our students,” Zink explained.  “Our goal is in part to have these girls take STEM classes, but also just to encourage them to stick with science and math.  Generally middle school is the time where girls veer away from that.”

When students reach high school their STEM interests tend to be gender specific.  Girls gravitate toward biomedical sciences and boys are more attracted to engineering classes. Studies show that girls want careers where they can help people, while boys want careers where they can solve problems.  “We’re really trying to bulk up the boys into biomedical and the girls into engineering to get more of a balance.  We need to get boys to see that solving problems is about helping people, and girls to see that engineering is about helping people,” said Zink.

The careers of the women mentors include biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical health and computer software development.

 

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