There are many barriers for success that face today’s kids, but especially for girls, who often fight stigmas that still guide today’s societal view of what women should and should not do for a career.
According to Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, a 2012 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, though, “Women account for about only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics…Regardless of the specific area of STEM, only about 25% of these positions are held by women.”
During the week of March 14th in 2016, the fourth annual Girls Technology Day will help students take that first step into STEM related fields. The event is co-sponsored by the NH Department of Education in partnership with the NH Community College System and the New Hampshire High Tech Council.
“The event will focus on freshmen and sophomore students because that is the age when many students begin focusing on interests that ultimately may become career paths,” said Courtney Ritchings, Education Consultant, Career Development Bureau of the NH Department of Education.
As for the success of prior Girls Technology Days, several students cited an increased awareness regarding the role of stigma in today’s society.
“Girls should be encouraged that the state of being ‘smart’ does not make them appear less attractive,” said Chloe Raymond, Nashua High School North.
Classmate Hannah Dobson added, “To keep girls’ minds open, old stereotypes should not be passed down to future generations.”
According to Ritchings, workshops at this year’s events will enable students to explore diverse topic, including 3D Modeling, Game Programming, App Development for Mobile Devices, Ethernet Cable, Building, and Metrology. Workshops will be led by local educators and industry leaders, such as Autodesk, Lonza Biologics, Hinton Technical Services, Albany Engineered Composites, ReVision Energy and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Citing next year’s event will double in size from this year, Ritchings said its continued growth speaks to a real demand that more students access STEM programming. “This year’s capacity is for 950 young women to attend a ‘STEM-spirational event’ that will expose them to many career and postsecondary opportunities in STEM fields,” she added.
In addition to workshops, students will have the opportunity to attend a vendor fair during their lunch break where they may learn about college options, career opportunities and see more technologies at work.
For past attendees, the event not only introduces new opportunities in STEM related fields, it helps shed light that issues of inequality must be discussed and better addressed in society.
“We need to treat both boys and girls the same from day one,” said Alexandria Baker, Pinkerton Academy. “Tell them that they can be whatever they want.”
Laura Griffin of Pinkerton Academy added, “Former NASA ambassador and actress Nichelle Nichols said, ‘Science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everybody’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going.’ More strong women like this need to be shown in the media just like this.”
As far as Ritchings is concerned, it is these kinds of sentiments they hope to foster within participants as well as an understanding as to the kinds of opportunities that exist in STEM related fields.
“This is an exciting opportunity to invest in the futures of these young women as well as the economic vitality of NH,” added Ritchings.
To learn more about Girls Technology Days 2016, visit www.nhgirlstechnologyday.com. If you are interested in becoming an industry partner, contact Ritchings at Courtney.Ritchings@doe.nh.gov or Jennifer Kiley at Jennifer.Kiley@doe.nh.gov.
Dates & Locations
Tuesday, March 15 @ Concord’s Community College in Concord
Wednesday, March 16 @ Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth
Thursday, March 17 @ University of New Hampshire- Durham Campus
Friday, March 18 @ Manchester Community College in Manchester